Big Tech will face new EU rules on political ads

Image Source: Reuters

European Union authorities have unveiled new regulations aimed at imposing clearer transparency standards on Big Tech companies in relation to political advertising on their platforms. 

The rules mandate that these tech giants, including Google and Meta, must provide information about the source of funding for political ads, the amount spent, and the specific elections being targeted. These measures come as the European Union prepares for significant elections in the coming year.

Agreed upon by EU member states and European Parliament legislators, these rules are designed to enhance transparency and accountability in the realm of political advertising. Violations of these regulations can result in fines of up to 6% of the annual turnover of the ad provider.

Notably, the rules also prohibit third-party entities from sponsoring political advertising within the EU during the three months leading up to an election or referendum. Furthermore, they include a ban on ads that create profiles of individuals based on factors such as ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation.

MEP Sandro Gozi, who has played a leading role in the European Parliament’s efforts to shape these regulations, expressed that these new rules will bolster defenses against foreign actors seeking to spread disinformation and interfere in the democratic processes of the EU. These measures aim to safeguard free and democratic processes within the European Union.

EU member states and European Union legislators have reached an agreement following extensive discussions to finalize the draft regulation proposed by the European Commission last year. Under these new regulations, all online political advertisements will be accessible through an online ad repository.

The European Parliament is scheduled to hold elections in June next year, and there is a heightened concern about disinformation and potential foreign interference leading up to the polls.

These pan-European rules will take effect 18 months after their implementation, expected in 2025. In the interim, measures governing the equitable provision of cross-border political advertising, including for European political parties and political groups, will already be in place for the European Parliament elections in 2024.

Written by Sophie Blake


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