21st Century Electoral Laws
Don't let digital imprints be 'kicked into the long grass'
Sign our petition for campaign regulations fit for the 21st Century
The main legislation regulating political parties’ campaigning activity and finance dates back to 2000 – before Facebook (2004) or Twitter (2006) existed, let alone had any role in political campaigns.
Parties and campaigns can now collect huge quantities of personal information with little oversight. The rules on campaigning need to catch up with the digital age.
In August 2020, the government unveiled new proposals that would require parties and political campaigners to display a digital imprint on online political advertisements. As yet, there is no timeline for introducing the policy. Another consultation risks kicking the issue even further into the long grass, especially considering that the government first committed to introducing digital imprints in May 2019, following a previous consultation.
Who’s targeting you?
When a leaflet is pushed through your door during an election it has to contain an ‘imprint’ detailing who paid for and promoted it. But there are no such rules for adverts pushed on to your timeline or following you around the internet.
We support the Electoral Commission’s longstanding recommendation to extend imprint requirements to online election material, which the Commission has advocated since 2003. It’s time the government followed their advice.
What are they saying to your neighbours?
It’s vital that political campaigns happen in the open. Given their printed nature, election materials are visible to everyone equally, but the same can’t be said of online adverts. You just can’t know what candidates are saying to the different members of your family or neighbours down the road.
Policies might contradict each other, or change as election day approaches, but you would have no way of knowing.
While some internet giants have taken steps towards greater transparency, we believe the integrity of our elections cannot be left to the whims of individual companies. We need real-time databases of all political ads running across online platforms.
It's time to shine a light on ‘dark ads’ online
Anonymous groups can plough hundreds of thousands of pounds into trying to change our political debate online.
Voters on all sides deserve to know who is paying for online campaign adverts – and why we’re being targeted. It’s time we brought the law up to date so campaigns are transparent about who’s paying for our politics, and why.
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More information about 21st Century Electoral Laws
Democracy in the Dark: Digital Campaigning in the 2019 General Election and Beyond
Read more >
Openness and transparency are the key foundations for any democracy. But today we find too much of our politics is shrouded in secrecy.
Reining in the Political ‘Wild West’: Campaign Rules for the 21st Century
Read more >
The year 2000 – when our election rules were largely written – was a time before social media as we know it. Twitter and Facebook did not exist.
Response to the Cabinet Office Technical Consultation on Digital...
Response to inquiry into social media for the Parliament...