Electoral Commission sets sights on online advertising

Josh Hall's picture

The Electoral Commission has called for new laws requiring online political adverts to include details of who has paid for them.

The watchdog is pressuring the government to make online adverts subject to the same rules as those in print, which must clearly show who they were produced by.

It says online campaigning is becoming increasingly important in the UK, and that the law must be updated to ensure transparency on who is funding it.

The Commission’s director of regulation, Louise Edwards, told the BBC: “What we need and what we’re calling for is a very clear change in the law to make parties and campaigners say on the face of their advert who they are, who’s paid for that advert, and who is promoted.”

Earlier this month the government said it was committed to the introduction of new measures to help “crack down on intimidation, influence, and disinformation, and safeguard UK elections.”

But the so-called ‘digital imprint regime’, which addresses the Commission’s request, will not materialise for some time, with the government only saying it will introduce technical proposals for the scheme later this year.

The Electoral Commission’s calls for further regulation come during a period of intense scrutiny on the internet’s role in both elections and the wider political debate.

As we reported this morning, Instagram is the latest major platform to take action, with the announcement that it will begin fact-checking posts made on the app.

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