Transparency and targeting of political advertising: EU co-legislators strike deal on new regulation
The European Council and Parliament have provisionally agreed on the main political aspects of a new regulation concerning the transparency and targeting of political advertisements. The regulation, born out of concerns about information manipulation and foreign election interference, intends to empower citizens to identify political ads, understand their sources, and discern whether they have been targeted, enabling them to make informed decisions.
The new rules define political advertising as messages prepared, placed, promoted, published, or disseminated by or on behalf of political actors, or messages designed to influence voting behavior or the outcome of an election or legislative process. This covers not only paid political advertising but also in-house activities like the creation of political ads within parties. However, the regulation does not apply to personal opinions or content under editorial responsibility.
The proposed rules also impose strict limitations on targeting and ad delivery techniques. Personal data can only be used for targeting online political ads if the individual has provided explicit consent. Profiling using sensitive personal data, such as racial or ethnic origin or political views, is prohibited. To prevent foreign interference, the provision of advertising services to sponsors from third countries will be banned three months prior to an election or referendum.
Lastly, the EU legislators have agreed that the Commission should create a public repository for online political ads to consolidate and publicly disclose information on all online ads and their transparency notices. The new rules will come into effect 18 months after their official adoption, with certain definitions and clauses applicable in time for the EP elections. The details of the new regulation are yet to be finalized and must be confirmed by both institutions before formal adoption.