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“Full transparency for political ads is a must”, say S&Ds

Date

24 Jan 2023

Sections

Innovation & Enterprise

The Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament led a majority in the EP committee on the internal market and consumer protection for the creation of a European repository for online political advertising. This is a major victory for the S&D Group in the EP significantly improving the legislative proposal, made by the European Commission to the European Parliament and the member states. The repository will contain copies of the online ads and detailed information on the identity of sponsors, the amount spent on the campaign, and also engagement metrics.

Maria Manuel Leitão Marques, MEP, S&D negotiator on the issue of transparency and targeting of political advertising, said:

“Manipulation of voters is unacceptable and is a direct threat to the foundations of our society. Nowadays, especially with online campaigns, it is much easier to promise different things to different voters and to promote hate and divisions in society while the sponsors of such campaigns remain in the dark. This is why our group is convinced it is crucial for everyone to see what is being said in a campaign and by whom. The creation of the repository for online advertising did not exist in the initial proposal for EU legislation made by the European Commission, and I am happy our group made it a reality. It will give a greater insight into political campaigns for authorities, researchers and civil society organisations.

“The report we adopted today concerns not only online political advertising, but also offline. We pushed for and obtained the prohibition of political advertising services by sponsors who are not residents or citizens of the Union. It is undeniable that foreign actors try to influence the democratic process in the EU. This is totally unacceptable and we must protect our society from such interference. We owe it to our own citizens.

“At the same time, freedom of speech and purely private communication must in no way fall victims of attempts to regulate transparency of political advertising. A post by a citizen on his profile in social media cannot be treated as political advertising and cannot be regulated by this piece of legislation. We made this clear in the report as there were some worrying provisions in this regard in the European Commission’s proposal, but we, the Socialists and Democrats, firmly opposed them. We will insist on this for the final adoption of the report in a couple of weeks by the plenary of the European Parliament, and then at the negotiations with the member states in the Council of the EU.”

 

Note for the editor:

The “European repository for online political advertisements”, created by Article 7b of the report of the committee on the internal market and consumer protection,  is an online repository to be established and managed by the Commission that will contain copies of all online political ads for a period of ten years. It should be publicly available and allow anyone interested to search this public database, and allow for the data to be used for further analysis.  

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