The European Union may soon ban targeted political ads online using sensitive personal data without user consent under new European Commission proposals published on Thursday.
“The elections should not be a competition for opaque and opaque methods,” commission deputy chair Vera Jourova said in a press release.
“People should know why they watched the ad, who paid for it, how much, [and] What micro-targeting criteria are used, said the commissioner whose portfolio covers Values and Transparency.
The proposals come after years of concern that EU voters are vulnerable to manipulation by hostile actors on social media.
Jourova told reporters in Brussels that the Cambridge Analytica scandal provided a “glimpse” of the risks posed by targeted online advertising.
The data analytics company has been accused of collecting Facebook data from millions of users to work in support of the pro-Brexit campaign as well as former US President Donald Trump’s 2016 bid for the White House.
Under the proposed regulations, targeted political ads based on sensitive data such as sexual orientation and religious beliefs are prohibited, unless the user expressly consents.
In addition, new transparency stickers should show social media users who funded and how much political ads they view. The label also needs to explain the relevant relationship to current political events such as referendums or elections.
The commission aims to set the rules by 2024.
A recent Eurobarometer poll showed that nearly four in ten Europeans had been exposed to content where they could not easily determine whether it was political advertising.