The EU will publish draft legislation aimed at restricting the use of social media practices, such as micro-positioning and user portraits, by forcing technology groups to share how they disseminate advertisements and information aimed at citizens online.
These rules will enable companies such as Facebook and Google to disclose the parameters they use to determine who views political advertisements online, including the categories of personal data used for “targeting and amplifying,” the goals and length of advertising campaigns.
A draft document published on Tuesday shows that technology groups will have to disclose the number of people targeted by the ad and the source of the personal data used, including whether the information was obtained firsthand, inferred, or collected from a third party.
This confidential document warns that the way large online platforms use citizen data to place political advertisements on them has “negative effects” on “their freedom of opinion and information, political decisions and the exercise of voting rights.”
Because of the fear of being targeted by citizens without their knowledge or consent, there is increasing pressure for political advertising to be more transparent.
Vera Jourova, the vice chairman of the European Commission for Values and Transparency, told viewers in Lisbon this month that digital advertising for political purposes “is an unchecked race of dirty and opaque methods.”
“We have to press the’slow down’ button because our democracy is too precious,” she said. “The right to speak does not mean the right to contact.”
These rules will enable political parties to label their advertisements and force companies engaged in so-called problem-based advertising to clearly determine which party is funding the advertisement.
The regulation is expected to take effect before the end of the current European Parliament in 2024. Stricter regulations will force rogue actors to use online media accounts on networks such as Twitter to identify who sponsored their content.
The draft proposal states that companies that violate the rules will face a fine of up to 5% of their turnover, which is in line with the EU’s current privacy rules. Although the committee can play an important role, law enforcement will be delegated to the national authorities.
Once the draft legislation is published, the text will be discussed in “triple” among the member states, parliaments and committees.
Cracking down on the way large online platforms handle political advertising is part of Brussels’ broader campaign against large technological forces.