EU Adopts New Rules on Political Advertising to Combat Foreign Interference

EU Adopts New Rules on Political Advertising to Combat Foreign Interference
EU Adopts New Rules on Political Advertising to Combat Foreign Interference
EU Adopts New Rules on Political Advertising to Combat Foreign Interference
EU Adopts New Rules on Political Advertising to Combat Foreign Interference

EU Adopts New Rules on Political Advertising to Combat Foreign Interference

EU Adopts New Rules on Political Advertising to Combat Foreign Interference

EU Adopts New Rules on Political Advertising to Combat Foreign Interference

European Union lawmakers have approved new regulations on political advertising aimed at strengthening protection against foreign interference in European elections. The rules focus on enhancing transparency, making it easier for citizens to identify political ads, their origin, and whether they are targeted. Outside the EU, countries will be prohibited from funding political advertising within the bloc three months before an election or referendum.

Key Provisions and Restrictions to Safeguard Democracy

The regulations prohibit the use of personal data such as ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation for political advertising, including minors’ data. Spearheaded by lawmaker Sandro Gozi, the EU aims to defend freedoms, personal data, and increase transparency in electoral campaigns, particularly online. The rules will combat manipulation of democratic processes and will apply 18 months after formal adoption by both the parliament and EU states, with some provisions effective for the June 6-9 EU elections.

Cross-Border Advertising and Stricter Oversight

In the lead-up to elections, individuals and groups will have the ability to advertise across EU borders, departing from previous limitations to a single country. The majority of lawmakers supported the law, emphasizing the need for stronger defenses against manipulation. The rules emerge as part of an update proposed in 2021 after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, demanding online platforms to flag content as political advertising. The law also permits providers to use personal data explicitly given for online political advertising to target users.

Publicly Accessible Database and Voluntary Compliance Guidelines

The European Commission will establish a publicly accessible database listing all online political advertisements for a maximum of seven years. Recognizing the time lag in enforcement, the commission has issued voluntary compliance guidelines for major online platforms under the Digital Services Act. The guidelines emphasize clear labeling of content as political advertising to ensure user awareness. The EU’s proactive approach aims to fortify electoral processes and safeguard democracy against external influence.

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