Enforcement and scope subjects of EU Council’s text on political ads – EURACTIV.com
Details on enforcement jurisdiction and a formalized list of what does not count as political advertising are among the changes included in the Czech Council Presidency’s latest compromise text on the political advertising regulation.
The text, dated Tuesday (15 November) and obtained by contextswas circulated ahead of the Council’s General Affairs Working Group meeting for this Friday.
The original proposal was put forward by the Commission in 2020 as a key component of the EU Executive’s Democracy Action Plan, intended to bolster transparency in political advertising and tackle disinformation in election campaigns.
The plan is for the legislation to take effect ahead of the next round of European Parliament elections in spring 2024, although the slow progress on the file is now putting that timeline into question.
EU Commission presents new rules for political ads
The European Commission launched a proposal to regulate political advertising, introducing transparency obligations for marketers and strict limits to the use of sensitive personal information.
The proposal was published on Thursday (25 November) to protect the electoral process and democratic debate …
Amongst the subjects amended in the new text is enforced. Under the compromise, responsibility for ensuring compliance with the regulation will lie with authorities in the member state where the ad service provider is established.
Where providers are established in multiple states, enforcement will be in the hands of the country’s government in which its main establishment is located.
The text also proposes further detail to the requirement that service providers without an establishment in the EU nominate a legal representative to be registered in a member state.
Previous texts required member states to maintain a publicly-available register of these legal representatives. The compromise text amends this to specify that each government must designate a competent authority responsible for publishing and updating a website containing information on these representatives.
The Commission will then be required to establish a central portal linking to all respective member state sites.
The new text also includes a clarified and formalized list of what is not included in the definition of “political advertising”. Previous texts stipulated that this would not encompass political opinions expressed editorially by media or messages from official sources related to the organization of or participation in elections.
In the new text, the list of exemptions has been formalized to also include official communication by, for or on behalf of national public authorities, not designed to influence votes, and the presentation of candidates in specific public spaces or in the media, when coverage is undertaken freely and equally.
The Presidency’s previous compromise, passed to member states in October, raised concerns among some stakeholders over the differing definitions used.
It was noted that, while political advertising as a service was at the center of the regulation’s first two chapters, the service component was missing in its third, potentially opening the door to the rules also being applied to political speech by citizens and organizations, for instance.
Targeting and personal data use
Several more minor clarifications have also been made regarding targeting and amplification based on personal data.
Where, previously, the targeting and amplification of political ads were prohibited when based on the processing of personal data belonging to people under the age of 15, this measure has now been made more nationally specific.
Under the new text, this prohibition would now apply to the data of anyone at least one year younger than the national voting age.
The definition of “amplification techniques” has also been amended to include a reference to the advertisement intended for delivery to a specific person or group.
[Edited by Luca Bertuzzi/Nathalie Weatherald]
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