Insights European Council and Parliament reach provisional agreement on the Transparency and Targeting of Political Advertising Regulation

In 2021, the Commission proposed new rules to address the dangers posed by information manipulation and foreign interference in elections, to make it easier for citizens to recognise political advertisements, to understand who is behind them, and to know if they are being targeted with such advertising.

Each political advertisement must be labelled with a statement that it is a political advertisement, the identity of the sponsor and a transparency notice which must include the identity and contact details of the sponsor and other information. Repositories of advertising that must be made available by “Very Large Online Platforms” under the EU Digital Services Act (defined under the Digital Services Act as platforms with 45 million or more average monthly active users in the EU) must include the information contained in the transparency notice.

Targeting and amplification techniques (seeking to tailor political advertising to a specific person or group) that involve the processing of special categories of personal data (such as data revealing racial or ethnic origin, political opinions and religious beliefs) in the context of political advertising are prohibited, unless the data subject has given explicit consent for that particular purpose.

The European Parliament and Council have now reached agreement on the text of the Regulation including a number of amendments to the Commission’s original proposal. That text is not yet available. According to reports, in order to address foreign election interference, the European Parliament and Council have agreed to ban the provision of advertising services to third country sponsors three months before an election or referendum. They have also agreed to the creation of a publicly accessible repository which will contain all online political advertisements and related information for up to seven years. This is to be set up by the European Commission within 24 months of the Regulation coming into effect.  Finally, they have agreed that the implementation period for the Regulation will be 18 months from when the Regulation comes into force.

The agreed text now needs to be formally adopted by both the Parliament and Council.

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