(BRUSSELS) — The agreement on the final text for the Regulation on the Transparency and Targeting of Political Advertising should create a more transparent political advertising environment ahead of the June 2024 European Elections, according to the Centre for Democracy & Technology Europe.
After several months of negotiation, CDT Europe is gratified that EU lawmakers have landed on an agreement on legislation to address issues that have the potential to undermine democracy – such as microtargeting and lack of accountability.
Asha Allen, Centre for Democracy & Technology Programme Director, Online Expression & Civic Space, said:
“This is a positive step in creating a more transparent political advertising environment, especially given the negative impacts that issues such as microtargeting and lack of accountability have on our democracies. Negotiators seem to have made headway in addressing critical privacy, data protection and free expression concerns that civil society consistently raised throughout the legislative process, however we are yet to see the final text.
Serious questions remain as to how well enforcement of the Regulation will work, and more importantly how well the mechanisms to preserve fundamental rights will be safeguarded. How the law works in practice and is enforced will be vital especially given the unique European context, in which the largest trans-national democratic election in the world occurs every five years.”
The Centre for Democracy & Technology Europe Office has advocated for meaningful and effective transparency measures to address the opaque online political advertising ecosystem, especially in light of the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data breach and subsequent similar revelations.
Alongside our civil society partners, we have called for significant improvements to the proposal throughout the legislative process, such as alignment with the EU Digital Services Act in reinforcing a ban on the use of sensitive personal data in the targeting of political advertising.
Most crucially, CDT Europe has strongly advocated for the protection of political free expression, which is afforded the highest degree of protection under both European and international law, by ensuring the scope of the Regulation is narrowed to only apply to paid or sponsored political content.
Asha Allen continued:
“We hope to see civil society concerns addressed and our recommendations incorporated into the final text. There is still a long road ahead as the proposed enforcement and implementation mechanisms for this law are complex and will certainly require transparency and consistent consultation with relevant experts and civil society organisations.”
The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) is the leading nonpartisan, nonprofit organization fighting to advance civil rights and civil liberties in the digital age. We shape technology policy, governance, and design with a focus on equity and democratic values. Established in 1994, CDT has been a trusted advocate for digital rights since the earliest days of the internet. The organization is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has a Europe Office in Brussels, Belgium.