The European Union seeks to ban political ads targeting race or religion


The European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, has proposed a ban on some types of political ads that use sensitive personal data, including ethnicity, religion, health status or sexual orientation, unless users give explicit consent. If the rules go into effect, advertisers will have to provide clear details of the criteria they use to target, as well as the “amplification tools or methods” they use.

Each advertisement should also be more transparent in terms of displaying the name of the person or organization that paid for it, as well as revealing how much was spent, where the money came from, and the relationship of the advertisement to the election or referendum.

The European Commission hopes that these measures will help protect the integrity of elections, in large part by making it more difficult to target and mislead marginalized groups for campaigning. She said people should be able to easily know when they are watching a paid political ad, both online and offline, and participate in political discussions without being swayed by interference, manipulation or misinformation.

“Elections should not be a competition for opaque and opaque methods. European Commission Vice President for Values ​​and Transparency Vera Jourova said in a statement that people should know why they see the ad, who paid for it, how much, and what micro-targeting criteria are used.

If the bill becomes law, EU member states will need to set fines for breaking the rules. National data protection authorities will be mandated to monitor how personal data is used for ad targeting and to impose fines where applicable. The European Commission hopes to enact the rules, which build on and are planned, by the spring of 2023, before European Parliament elections the following year.

Political ads have been a hot issue for internet platforms for several years. And both after polls closed in the 2020 US presidential election to stem the flow of misinformation. Earlier this month, Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, rolled out thousands of ad targeting options, including those related to race, health, religion, sexual orientation and political beliefs. Twitter in 2019.

The European Commission’s proposed rules could also prevent some types of confidential data collection. In 2019, GOP-linked PR farms used the Google ad network for potential voters.

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