Electoral Commission calls on Theresa May to stop digital political advertising

Electoral Commission calls on Theresa May to stop digital political advertising

The UK's Electoral Commission is leading calls for a clampdown on digital political advertising amid lingering concern at a number of ‘scandals’ relating to the Brexit referendum.

It wants to see anonymous ‘dark advertising’ banned completely and a crackdown on the misuse of personal data, as well as tighter laws to prevent campaigners breaching spending limits.

Tougher rules, and heftier punishments are seen as the best way to prevent a repeat of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal in which data from millions of Facebook users was misappropriated for political ends.

Sir John Holmes, the Commission’s chairman, said: “Urgent action must be taken by the UK government to ensure that the tools used to regulate political campaigning online continue to be fit for purpose in a digital age.

“Implementing our package of recommendations will significantly increase transparency about who is seeking to influence voters online, and the money spent on this at UK elections and referendums.”

A four-point plan to bring about change includes the introduction of clear labelling of all online ads by political parties; detailed record keeping of digital campaign spends; an online database of political adverts and a ‘significant increase’ on the maximum £20k fine for breaching electoral law.

The Drum investigated whether UK political ads needed tighter regulation during Advertising Week Europe.

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