On 25 November 2021, the European Commission unveiled its draft proposal for a EU Regulation on the transparency and targeting of political advertising, as part of the European Democracy Action Plan. CDT Europe welcomes the commitment of the European Commission in attempting to create a more transparent political advertising environment. In the era of behaviourally targeted advertising as the norm, prior efforts to manage the negative impacts of online advertising, particularly in the political context, have proven insufficient; therefore this draft regulation is a marked step in the right direction.
Given the unique European context, in which the largest trans-national democratic election in the world occurs every five-years, it is appropriate for the European Institutions to take steps to ensure that contemporary issues with online political advertising don’t continue to be detrimental to the credibility of European democracy. Within this brief, CDT Europe analyses the proposal, noting the strengths of the draft regulation whilst outlining where the proposal falls shy of establishing a concrete framework that can effectively address the many challenges it aims to address.
“The current status quo of the online political advertising environment is one of obscurity and the bypassing of existing accountability mechanisms by bad actors to exacerbate polarisation and undermine information reliability. The European Union has the opportunity now to correct course and CDT Europe would urge EU institutions to recognise that the continued dominance of surveillance-based advertising simply does not support transparent, thriving democracies”.