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Council position on political advertising opens the door to election manipulation

European Parliament Freedom, democracy and transparency Press releases

Today, the EU Council adopted a position on the proposed Regulation on transparency and targeting of political advertising; the text had already been published beforehand. Member of the European Parliament Patrick Breyer (Pirate Party), who had co-negotiated the LIBE Committee’s position as shadow rapporteur, comments:

“The proposed rules on personalised targeting of political messages are a mere smoke-screen and will allow the digital manipulation of elections and referendums to continue unabated. Anti-democratic radical forces would continue to use surveillance ads to personally target hate messages and lies to voters who are susceptible to it. This puts the foundation of our democracy at risk. We are witnessing today a toxic mixture of the short-sighted self-interest of the powerful in using surveillance advertising themselves and the business interests of big tech. The European Parliament will fight in the trilogue negotiations for a ban on using surveillance advertising to manipulate our democratic elections and votes.”

The European Data Protection Supervisor had already criticised the ineffectiveness of the Commission’s draft regulation, whose targeting rules the Council adopts with few amendments: “In the EDPS’ view, Article 12 of the proposal does not provide, in practical terms, any additional protection to the already existing data protection rules under Union law.” He warns against “procedures which do not involve the processing of special categories of personal data as such, but which nevertheless have equally significant specific and adverse effects” and calls for a “comprehensive ban on microtargeting”.