An enactment was proposed on Thursday by the European Commission which is the EU’s executive body. The bill is based on a list of categories that regulators consider confidential, such as race, political beliefs, and health. However, the widespread ban on so-called micro-targeting which is based on personal information requested by some activists has not been reached.
What is more, the bill also concerns all political advertising which social media companies perform, such as how widely ads are displayed, targeting with third parties, and other criteria used to determine who will display them.
All companies which do not comply can be fined as much as 5% of the world’s annual revenue which is higher than the EU fine for privacy disturbance.
As reported by EU policymakers, the new rule is supposed to invalidate what they describe as a negative impact on free elections and political debate due to targeted advertising. According to them, such advertisements can polarize the political debate. Researchers, however, say that they have been used to target specific voter groups to discourage them from turning out to vote. Bella Jouroba, who is a Vice-President of the European Commission, stated:
“Confidential data that people decide to share with friends on social media cannot be used to target friends for political purposes, especially online.”
The beginning of the EU proposal may take months or even years over its content. In order to become a law, it must be affirmed by both the European Council, which represents the 27 governments of the block, and the European Parliament, which is directly elected.
This announcement is in the midst of a new wave of the biggest technological regulations of a generation.
Both EU member states and MPs are currently working on separate legislation that will impose strict new content moderation and preemptive competition rules on large tech companies, with the goal of completing and passing them early next year. Similar rules are being considered in the United Kingdom, and other proposals aimed at curbing major tech companies are being considered in the United States, Australia, Canada and elsewhere.
A cache of Facebook internal documents, published by The Wall Street Journal, was cited by Jourova on Thursday. The aim was to serve as an example of all the risks that the bill is trying to address. In the United States, legislation is already trying to reduce the power of major tech companies and is starting to gain momentum in Congress.
The actual subject of a debate is online political advertising. It became a really powerful tool that makes reaching hard-to-find voters in the United States, EU and elsewhere easier. Since the 2016 U.S. presidential election, foreign groups, including some with the support of the Russian government, have used social media ads to upset voters and disrupt political debates. Has also been criticized.
For last year’s elections, tech companies took different kinds of actions. Google at Alphabet Inc., for example, has banned advertisers from targeting political messages based on user interests inferred from browsing or search history. Twitter Inc. completely stopped accepting most political ads because “I think political reach should be earned, not purchased.” The company also said it has restricted and removed micro-targeting from cause-based advertising.
Facebook of Meta Platforms Inc. decided to suspend political advertising on US platforms during the period before and after the election. The bill was supported by some tech activists. Howeverm they said that they hope the bill will be expanded to outlaw more forms of microtargeting ads for political purposes.