European Parliament proposes ban on non-EU based entities financing political ads in EU

The European Parliament has proposed to ban non-EU based entities from financing political advertisements in the EU.

To determine where such an entity is established, the relevant authorities should take into account where the ultimate controller of this entity is located, according to a statement by the European Parliament after MEPs voted to back numerous changes to proposed political advertising rules intended to make elections and referenda more transparent and resistant to interference.

Under the changes made by MEPs to a proposal by the European Commission, only personal data explicitly provided for online political advertising can be used by advert providers.

Micro-targeting, a strategy that uses consumer data and demographics to identify the interests of specific individuals, will therefore not be possible, according to the European Parliament statement.

The European Parliament introduced other provisions to further regulate the broader activity of targeting, such as a blanket ban on using minors’ data.

MEPs also made significant changes to ensure that citizens, authorities and journalists have easy access to information on political advertisements. Among other proposals, they advocate creating an online repository for all online political advertisements and related data.

It should be easier to obtain information on who is financing an advert, on its cost, and the origin of the money used.

Other pieces of information which should also be published include whether an advertisement has been suspended for violating the rules, on the specific groups of individuals targeted and what personal data were used for this, and the views and engagement with the advertisement. MEPs aim to give journalists a specific right to obtain such information, the statement said.

MEPs introduced the possibility of periodic penalties to be levied for a repeated violation and the obligation for large advertisement service providers to suspend their services for 15 days with a particular client in the case of serious and systemic infringements. The European Commission will be able to introduce EU-wide minimum sanctions.

The text adopted also strengthens the powers of the national authorities and allows the European Data Protection Board to take over an investigation into an infringement and enforce the rules, the European Parliament said.

Talks will now soon begin between the two co-legislators, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU Presidency representing the member states – whose mandate for negotiations was adopted in December 2022.

(Photo: EC Audiovisual Service)

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