Tue. Dec 7th, 2021

The EU will unveil draft legislation aimed at restricting the use of social media practices such as micro-targeting and user profiles by forcing technology groups to share information on how they distribute ads and target citizens online.

The rules will allow people like Facebook and Google to disclose the parameters they use to determine who sees political ads online, including the categories of personal data used for “targeting and strengthening”, the goals and duration of the advertising campaign.

Technical teams will have to disclose the number of individuals targeted by the ad and the source of personal data used, including whether the information was first-hand, derived or collected from a third party, a draft document showed Tuesday.

The confidential document warned that the way large online platforms used citizens’ data to target them with political ads had a “negative effect” on their freedom of opinion and information, to make political decisions and to exercise their right to vote. to practice ”.

The news comes as the pressure increases to make political ads more transparent about concerns that citizens are being targeted without their knowledge or consent.

Vera Jourova, the European Commission’s Vice President for Values ​​and Transparency, told an audience in Lisbon this month that digital advertising for political purposes is “the uncontrolled race of dirty and opaque methods”.

“We have to push the ‘delay’ button because our democracy is too precious,” she said. “The right to speak does not mean the right to reach.”

The rules would allow political parties to label their ads and force companies working on so-called issue-based ads to clearly identify which political party is funding an ad.

The regulation is expected to take effect before the end of the current European Parliament in 2024. The stricter rules will force rogue actors who use online media accounts on networks such as Twitter to identify who is sponsoring their content.

Companies that violate the rules face a fine of up to 5 percent of turnover in accordance with the privacy rules in place in the block, the draft proposals read. The enforcement will be handed over to national authorities, although the commission may play a prominent role.

Once the draft legislation has been published, the text will be discussed between the member states, parliament and the commission in a “trilogue” discussion.

A restriction on the way major online platforms handle political advertising is part of a wider movement in Brussels to address the power of Big Tech.

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