UK watchdog wants disclosure rules for political ads on social media

UK watchdog wants disclosure rules for political ads on social media
From TechCrunch - March 7, 2018

The UKs data protection agency will push for increased transparency into how personal data flows between digital platforms to ensure people being targeted for political advertising are able to understand why and how it is happening.

Information commissioner Elizabeth Deham said visibility into ad targeting systems is needed so that people can exercise their rightssuch as withdrawing consent to their personal data being processed should they wish.

Data protection is not a back-room, back-office issue anymore, she said yesterday. It is right at the centre of these debates about our democracy, the impact of social media on our lives and the need for these companies to step up and take their responsibilities seriously.

What I am going to suggest is that there needs to be transparency for the people who are receiving that message, so they can understand how their data was matched up and used to be the audience for the receipt of that message. That is where people are asking for more transparency, she added.

The commissioner was giving her thoughts on how social media platforms should be regulated in an age of dis(and mis)information during an evidence session in front of a UK parliamentary committee thats investigating fake news and the changing role of digital advertising.

Her office (the ICO)is preparing its own report this springwhich she said is likely to be published in Maywhich will lay out its recommendations for government.

We want more people to participate in our democratic life and democratic institutions, and social media is an important part of that, but we also do not want social media to be a chill in what needs to be the commons, what needs to be available for public debate, she said.

We need information that is transparent, otherwise we will push people into little filter bubbles, where they have no idea about what other people are saying and what the other side of the campaign is saying. We want to make sure that social media is used well.

It has changed dramatically since 2008. The Obama campaign was the first time that there was a lot of use of data analytics and social media in campaigning. It is a good thing, but it needs to be made more transparent, and we need to control and regulate how political campaigning is happening on social media, and the platforms need to do more.

Last fall UK prime minister Theresa May publicly accused Russia of weaponizing online information in an attempt to skew democratic processes in the West.

And in January the government announcedit would set up a dedicated national security unit to combat state-led disinformation campaigns.

Last month May also ordered a review of the law around social media platforms, as well as announcing a code of conduct aimed at cracking down on extremist and abusive contentanother Internet policy shes prioritized.

So regulating online content has already been accelerated to the top of government in the UKas it is increasingly on the agenda inEurope.

Although its not yet clear how the UKgovernment will seek to regulate social media platforms to control political advertising.

Denhams suggestion to the committee was for a code of conduct.


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