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The European Union wants to limit political advertising targeting sensitive personal data

The European Comission has proposed a more comprehensive regulation of some types of segmented and targeted political advertising. Specifically, of the advertisements that use sensitive personal data. Among them, the origin and ethnicity of the people, their state of health or their sexual orientation, unless users give their explicit consent for their data to be used for political advertising. Furthermore, the personal data of minors may not be processed for commercial purposes. The measure is specifically designed for social networks and online advertising giants, including Facebook and Google.

For now, this measure is nothing more than a proposal, but if it goes ahead, advertisers would have to provide very clear details and data on the criteria they use for their political advertising ads, as well as the amplification tools they already use. that they take advantage of. Also of the methods and systems they use for it.

Likewise, each advertisement for political advertising should have greater transparency when it comes to displaying the name of the person or organization or company that has paid for it. On the other hand, it would also have to make public how much has been invested in the advertisements in question, where the money used in its payment has come from and the connection of the advertisement with an election or a referendum.

With these measures, the European Commission hopes to contribute to the protection of the integrity of the electoral processes. In practice, if this measure takes effect, it will make electoral campaigns have much more complicated segmentation to target minority or marginal groups and try to deceive and manipulate them. The Commission is also betting on this step because people can easily know if what they see is a political advertisement, whether it is online or offline, in addition to being able to take part in political discussions without being under the influence of advertisements that may influence their opinion, manipulate them or cause them to receive wrong or directly false information.

The Vice President of Transparency and Values ​​of the European Commission, Vera Jourová, has stated that «elections should not be a competition of opaque and non-transparent methods. People need to know why they see an ad, who paid for it, how much, and what micro-targeting criteria were used with it. New technologies should be tools for emancipation, not for manipulation. This ambitious proposal will bring an unprecedented level of transparency to political campaigns, and will limit opaque targeting techniques.«.

For his part, Commissioner for Justice of the European Commission, Didier Reynders, has highlighted that «fair and transparent elections are an integral part of a vibrant and functioning society. That is why we need to support inclusive and equal participation in the 2024 elections to the European Parliament, as well as in municipal elections in the EU. With the political advertising proposal we are ensuring the use of personal data in the context of political segmentation and protecting the democratic process«.

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