The new EU-wide rules will regulate political advertisements, including online ads, while also providing for a framework for more transparency for political advertisements. The main goal of EU lawmakers was to protect elections, and that citizens will be able to easily recognize online political advertising and the people behind it.
We advocated finding the right balance and not limiting political discourses and non-paid online posts. The rule applies to paid advertisements. However, the regulation applies not only to political parties and actors but also to civil society, which influences the outcome of votes or legislation. Its impact on the civic space will be monitored by Liberties.
More Transparency, More Privacy
Under the new rules, it will be easier for citizens, authorities and journalists to obtain information on who is financing an advert, their place of establishment, the amount paid, and the origin of the financing, among other details. Also, a publicly accessible repository will be set up by the Commission containing all online political advertisements and related information, for up to seven years. Mandatory ad repositories will only be in use 2 years after the law has passed.
The agreement stipulates that only the personal data expressly provided for the purposes of online political advertising and collected from the data subject can be used by the providers to target users.
The regulation bans organizations from third countries from sponsoring political advertising in the three months before an election or referendum.
Violations of the rules could lead to sanctions, in line with the DSA, up to 6% of an ad provider’s annual income or turnover.
Liberties Campaigned For The Ban of Using Sensitive Data In Political Ads
Liberties has long advocated for more transparency, more privacy, strong enforcement and, more importantly, for the ban of using sensitive information in political advertising.
Why is this important? Because today political actors can use sophisticated targeting techniques on social media to say different things to different people. This allows candidates to engage in duplicitous campaigning (promising different things to different people) and can lead to feeding citizens only with information and arguments that reinforce their own existing beliefs. Instead of enriching political debate, it creates echo chambers and increases polarization.
Therefore, Liberties advocated for the limitation on these targeting methods to the minimum. In recent years, we have also urged legislators to introduce guarantees to protect the fundamental rights of voters. The limitation on targeting will already applied during the upcoming EP elections.