21st Century Electoral Laws

The rules on campaigning need to catch up with the digital age.

Sign our petition for campaign regulations fit for the 21st Century Sign Now

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.

A dark advert is a paid for post on a social media website. These posts are only visible to the people being targeted (who may or may not follower the buyer) and do not appear on the buyer's timeline. Although dark ads are labelled as sponsored, they look the same as the organic posts around them and disappear after they have been seen.

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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Date published
Submission for

Response to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee...

Campaign Regulation
Date published
Submission for

Response to the PACAC Inquiry into the work of...

Campaign Regulation