Online targeting for political advertising: stricter rules are necessary


Online targeting for political advertising: stricter rules are necessary

The EDPS has published today his Opinion on the EU legislators’ proposed Regulation on transparency and targeting for political advertising.

In his Opinion, the EDPS welcomes the overarching aims of the proposed Regulation. By laying down rules and obligations for providers of political advertising and related services to be more transparent in their use of targeting techniques, this proposal seeks to promote free and fair elections in the EU, therefore strengthening the EU’s democratic process.

Wojciech Wiewiórowski, EDPS, said: “Political communication is essential for citizens, political parties and candidates in order to fully participate in democratic life. To preserve our democracy, we also need strong rules to combat disinformation, voter manipulation and interferences with our elections. We need to do more if we want to tackle the many risks surrounding the use of targeting and amplification techniques for political purposes.”

The EDPS recommends the EU legislators to consider stricter rules concerning online targeted advertising for political purposes, in addition to the proposed measures to make this type of advertising more transparent.

In particular, the EDPS recommends that the proposed Regulation includes a full ban on microtargeting for political purposes, which consists of targeting an individual or a small group of individuals with political messages according to some of their perceived preferences or interests that their online behaviour may reveal.

The EDPS also considers that further restrictions should be put in place concerning the categories of personal data that may or may not be processed for the purpose of political advertising, including when political advertising involves the use of targeting and amplification techniques. Specifically, the use of targeted advertising based on pervasive tracking for political purposes should be prohibited.

In his Opinion, the EDPS makes other specific comments and recommendations on certain elements of the Proposal, such as the relationship with the existing legal framework on data protection; the roles and responsibilities of the actors involved in political advertising; and the cooperation among the authorities responsible for the supervision and enforcement of the proposed Regulation, including data protection authorities.                                                                                                                                

Background information

The rules for data protection in the EU institutions, as well as the duties of the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), are set out in Regulation (EU) 2018/1725.

The legislative consultation powers of the EDPS are laid down in Article 42 of Regulation (EU) 2018/1725, which obliges the European Commission to consult the EDPS on all legislative proposals and international agreements that might have an impact on the processing of personal data. Such an obligation also applies to draft implementing and delegated acts. The statutory deadline for issuing an EDPS opinion is 8 weeks.

Wojciech Wiewiórowski (EDPS), was appointed by a joint decision of the European Parliament and the Council on to serve a five-year term, beginning on 6 December 2019

Personal data: see EDPS Glossary

Processing personal data: see EDPS Glossary

Privacy: the right of an individual to be left alone and in control of information about his or herself. The right to privacy or private life is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 12), the European Convention of Human Rights (Article 8) and the European Charter of Fundamental Rights (Article 7). The Charter also contains an explicit right to the protection of personal data (Article 8).

Verfügbare Sprachen: Englisch