Socialist and Green MEPs from the Internal Market Committee criticized the European Commission’s proposal on political advertising as lacking in ambition.
“I am disappointed with the lack of ambition in these rules which are little more than transparency,” Socialist MEP Maria Manuel Leitão Marques said during a debate on Monday (January 10th).
“It is clear that we must act… [but] it’s a kind of placebo, water and sugar, as a medicine for an important disease, “she added.
Leitão Marques argued that tracking-based advertising has led to a new dynamic in political campaigns – and that the new rules will not fundamentally solve the current problems, such as the risk of manipulation and lack of access to information. plurality of points of view.
Tracking-based advertising is increasingly of concern to policy makers, especially in the political arena, primarily because it tends to rely on large amounts of personal data and practices. invasive surveillance systems, of which the user is rarely aware.
The legislative proposal, presented by the European Commission in November, bans the use of sensitive personal data for political targeting advertising, with two exceptions.
Providers of politically targeted advertising could use information about a person’s ethnicity, political opinion, religious beliefs or union membership if the person has given explicit consent or if the user has regular contact with a foundation. , an association or other non-profit organizations.
But such provisions are considered by MEP Alexandra Geese of the Verts / ALE as “big gaps”.
“Do you know that on the Internet, it is the extremist organizations that are in regular contact with a lot more people than the more centered or democratic organizations?”, She declared to a representative of the committee.
“Don’t you fear that with these exceptions, you are encouraging extremist and conspiratorial organizations, giving them more impact and weight, especially in the online debate? she added.
“It could be a good proposition, but it completely ignores engagement-based targeting and amplification mechanisms,” said Geese, calling for a total ban on all targeted political advertising.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal of 2018, in which data from Facebook users was collected without their consent for the purposes of political advertising, highlighted the risks associated with the misuse of personal data for political purposes.
The bill will force digital platforms, PR firms, data brokers, political parties, and even influencers to clearly label paid political ads – including information such as who paid for the ad, how much has spent on it or what were the micro-targeting criteria. used.
The proposal is seen as a complementary tool to the Digital Services Act, a regulation that will force companies like Google and Facebook to remove illegal content faster and be more transparent about how their services work.
MEPs from the Internal Market Committee will now finalize their position on the European Commission’s political advertising proposal before entering into negotiations with EU members.
The aim is for the new rules to be in place by mid-2023, one year before the next European elections.
Overall, four in ten Europeans are exposed to content they feel they cannot easily identify as political advertising, according to an EU-wide survey last year.