QUESTIONABLE ONLINE POLITICAL ADVERTISING needs to be stopped urgently lest it threatens democracy, the UK's election watchdog has warned.
The Electoral Commission has called for changes in voting laws in a report entitled "Digital campaigning: increasing transparency for voters". It's calling for transparency to be added into online political ads so that voters can know who paid for them and what the source is to the claims said adverts make.
Today we're calling for urgent action to be taken by UK's governments and parliaments, and social media companies, to improve transparency around the targeting of voters online, in our new report "Digital campaigning: increasing transparency for voters".https://t.co/OOVhPyAl2T pic.twitter.com/FLjfPzdUYE— Electoral Commission (@ElectoralCommUK) June 26, 2018
"Today we're calling for urgent action to be taken by UK's governments and parliaments, and social media companies, to improve transparency around the targeting of voters online," the Electoral Commission tweeted.
Online political campaigning is largely unregulated which has lead to the spread of misinformation and the illegitimate use of personal data as seen in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
The lack of regulation has also seen Russian ad campaigns used to try and influence US and UK voting, as well as troll voters.
The whole situation is a bit of a sorry mess, particularly as there is no law preventing the posting off factually incorrect or false statements unless it's about a political candidate. And it's one the Commission wants to change, stat.
"Urgent action must be taken by the UK's governments to ensure that the tools used to regulate political campaigning online continue to be fit for purpose in a digital age," said Sir John Holmes, chair of the Electoral Commission.
While the Commission wants the government to roll up its sleeves and tackle the regulation of online political advertising, it also wants social media companies to play a part. Good luck in getting Facebook to play ball, or indeed Twitter which still seems awash with trolls, bigots and racists.
Alongside calling for more transparency and regulation, the Commission also wants to be given stronger powers of investigation to look into any dodgy advertising and have the ability to impose fines on people who breach the rules.
This seemingly minor grab for power also aims to be extended out to campaigners by making the required to provide detailed and meaningful invoices from their digital suppliers. Basically, the Commission wants to give the whole online political campaigning thing a damn good bout of scrutiny.
It also recommended the government has new checks to ensure that money from overseas is not being channelled into political advertising to influence UK voters during elections and referendums. And it wants to see control in place that ensures only people and organisations allowed to place political ads do so.
The government said it will be consulting on the proposals by the Commission "in due course". Basically, it's been pretty vague about how much of a toss it will give to the Commission's worries and recommendations. µ
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