Insights EU Parliamentary Committee adopts changes to political advertising rules to make EU elections more transparent and resistant to interference

The Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee has voted to amend the EU Commission’s proposed draft law regulating the transparency and targeting of political advertising.

The changes made require that only personal data explicitly provided for online political advertising can be used by advert providers. This creates a de facto ban on micro-targeting, a strategy that uses consumer data and demographics to identify the interests of specific individuals.

The committee also introduced a variety of provisions to further regulate the broader activity of targeting, including a blanket ban on the use of minors’ data.

The changes on transparency mean that more information will be made available to citizens, authorities and journalists and an online repository containing all online political advertisements and related data will be created.

The amended text would also make it easier to obtain information on who is financing an advert, on how much was paid for it, and from where the money originated. Information will also be published on whether an advertisement has been suspended for violating the rules, on the specific groups of individuals targeted and what personal data was used, and on engagement with the advertisement. Journalists will also be given a specific right to obtain such information.

The Committee also introduced periodic penalties to be levied for repeated violations and an obligation on large advertisement service providers to suspend their services for 15 days with a client who commits serious and systemic infringements. The Commission could also introduce EU-wide minimum sanctions.

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

MEPs also propose to ban non-EU based parties from being able to pay for political advertisements in the EU.

The text will now be tabled at the 1-2 February 2023 plenary session to obtain a negotiating mandate based on this text from the whole house. After that, negotiations can begin between the Council and Parliament. To read the EU Parliament’s press release in full, click here.