An international framework for political ad reform

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We started the Coalition for Reform in Political Advertising in May last year when, so far as we knew, there was no plan to reform it. Our campaign his developed at a rapid pace since then. An early supporter of our aims was the UK advertising trade body ISBA, and we’ve since gained support from numerous other organisations in the ad industry, and companies, citizens and not-for-profits outside of it, along the way.

In February 2019 the UK Government’s Disinformation & “Fake News” Inquiry delivered a robust set of recommendations to tackle disinformation, supporting several of the goals we’ve been advocating for political ad reform. The Chair of the Inquiry, Damian Collins MP, also put out a call to the ad industry for a political ad code in September last year that supported all our aims.

Exactly the same issues face digitally mature democracies across the globe, of course. While political ad reform is now being discussed in various countries, we wanted to share key principles we’ve developed in case like-minded organisations want to take up lobbying in countries outside the UK.

This list isn’t by any means exhaustive. In putting our 4-point plan together we wanted to gain momentum for the campaign by targeting areas it was hard to argue against, and which would also have the biggest impact.  You can view other suggestions for political ad reform in the UK’s Disinformation & Fake News Inquiry report here.

Our intention isn’t ourselves to mount similar campaigns abroad to the one we are running in the UK. We are sharing our overall framework as a starting point that can and should develop over time, and may also need to be adapted to local regulation and issues.

The Coalition for Reform in Political Advertising is a not-for-profit and we have no desire to have ownership of the framework or its content. We are sharing these ideas as an urgent starting point for reform in other digitally mature countries.  If you’d like to get in touch to discuss them, or for advice on how you can set up a similar campaign in  your own country, please contact alex.tait@reformpoliticaladvertising.org.

Reform we believe should be common to all digitally mature democracies.

1/  Legislate so that all paid-for political adverts can be viewed by the public.

A searchable repository of online political advertising should be developed, including information on when each advertisement was posted, at whom it was targeted, and how much was spent on it. There should be a requirement for all political advertising work to be listed for public display so that, even if the work does not require regulatory clearance, it is accountable, clear, and available for all to see. The repository should be run and managed independently of the advertising industry and political parties.

Facebook and Google have already made changes of their own accord, which deserve to be commended, but we need industry-wide standards rather than just platform-specific solutions.

2/  Introduce compulsory imprints or watermarks to show the origin of online adverts. In the UK, registered political parties and campaign groups are currently required by law to include an imprint (read: watermark) on hard copy election materials which makes clear who is responsible for the advertising.

There is, however, no such requirement for digital communications.

Given that almost anyone can make and disseminate digital political advertising, knowing what is “official” and what is being posted by over-eager supporters will become an increasingly important way for voters to discern how seriously to take political messages they happen upon. A requirement for a digital imprint would be one way of helping them to do this.

Reform we believe is right for the UK and that you should consider for your country.

3/  Require all objective factual claims used in political adverts to be  substantiated.

If a campaign wants to make an apparently objective and quantifiable claim in its political advertising, that claim should be accurate and stand up to independent scrutiny.

We’re not calling for an end to hopeful promises or scaremongering about what the other side might do: we’re simply saying that if you want to position something as a fact, the public have a right to be confident that it is just that.

The UK has a pre-clearance process already in place for misleading claims via its BCAP and CAP advertising codes for all TV and VOD consumer advertising. We believe that for the UK this process should apply to political claims of objective fact also.

4/  Create a body to regulate political advertising.

We need a body to oversee the content of political advertising. There is no regulation of this in the UK, and that fact is a principal cause of many of the recent problems.

The UK parliament could resolve that by extending the remit of either the Electoral Commission, the Advertising Standards Authority or the Election Committee of Ofcom – or it could set up an alternative body.

The above 4 points constitute the 4-point plan we launched with in May. However, we think the following areas also require urgent consideration.

Targeting

In the UK, the Disinformation & Fake News Inquiry has recommended that a “Code of Practice which highlights the use of personal information in political campaigning and applying to all data controllers who process personal data for the purpose of political campaigning should be underpinned by primary legislation.”

We also think the following principles are important

1. When regulation is discussed there is often an understandable focus on digital, as there has been in the DCMS report. There is no doubt that regulation of political advertising woefully needs to be brought up to date with the digital world we now live in. However, to take regulation of factual claims as an example, it needs to apply to all media, not only to digital

2. Similarly, because there has been extensive news coverage of privacy issues on Facebook, it can be tempting to single out that platform as being in need of reform. While Facebook is obviously a very important actor, the digital marketing ecosystem is complex, as anyone who works in marketing will testify. Social platforms are important, but the need is for updated regulation to cover the entire digital marketing ecosystem if we are to counter disinformation and fake news effectively.

3. We’d add that advertisers increasingly look at their communications in terms of a “customer journey” that takes account of all the touchpoints with consumers in the fragmented media landscape we now inhabit. From a UK perspective, we agree with the Independent Commission on Referendums that “An inquiry should be conducted into the regulation of political advertising across print, broadcast and online media, to consider what form regulation should take for each medium and whether current divergences of approach remain justified.” For example, account needs to be taken not only of paid adverts, but also of what marketers call “owned media”: all the communication channels under an entity’s control, such as websites, blogs, email – and also “earned media”, such as publicity resulting from editorial influence of various kinds.

April 2019

 

 

 

We now have a campaign pledge as well as an overall framework for international political ad reform

We are in the process of translating this page into 10 languages.

We started the Coalition for Reform in Political Advertising in the UK in May last year when, so far as we could see, there was no other plan for reform. Our campaign has developed rapidly since then.

As well as endorsement by numerous organisations and individuals in the UK, we now have the support of two of the main UK political parties – The Independent Group for Change and, as of July, The Green Party. We are actively in conversation with the other main parties to persuade them too to support the changes we advocate. Our ambition is to sign up all the main parties.

As our campaign has progressed, it has become increasingly obvious that mature democracies across the globe are facing precisely the same problem – outdated rules for political advertising and disinformation in the digital age. Political ad reform is now being discussed in several countries, and we want to share the key principles we’ve developed in the hope that this will help like-minded organisations abroad with lobbying in their own countries.

We are sharing two international frameworks we have developed. These are, firstly, our International Framework for Political Ad Reform, launched in May this year and aimed at producing legislative change. You can read it here.

Secondly, this week we are launching an international campaign pledge that can be adopted by political parties ahead of any legislative change. In the UK and several other countries, there is a convention that at election time political parties sign up to principles or a “pledge” which they promise to abide by in the electoral process. If this precedent exists in the country you live in, and also if it doesn’t yet, we think that encouraging political parties and other advertisers to adopt the practice is an important way to accelerate political advertising reform. This is needed because, even once that significant milestone has been reached where a Government agrees to legislative change, the process of implementation usually takes quite a while. For example, in the UK two of the points in our four-point plan have so far been supported by the Government, but the change won’t come into force until 2020 or 2021.

We recommend that, particularly where the convention of pledging already exists, both frameworks should be used in parallel. As well as effecting change in how political advertisers conduct their campaigns, bringing greater integrity and transparency into electoral processes, the two-pronged approach can also increase awareness of the proposed solutions and build consensus. The International Framework for Political Ad Reform provides guidance on how to bring about the core changes to legislation that we are recommending.

As a politically neutral, not-for-profit organisation, we don’t want ownership of either of these approaches. We are just keen to share our ideas with other countries facing similar issues.

Needless to say, as with the initial framework, these points aren’t exhaustive. We selected the four points because they represented plain common sense and would be hard to argue against, so we could build agreement quickly. At the same time, these were the areas we believed would have the greatest impact. There are obviously other areas that will need to be considered carefully, and that will vary by country: for example, limits and controls around spending, and ensuring your campaign complies with privacy laws.

We’ve used some UK examples below, but let common sense be the judge of how far each point is appropriate in your country, how it can best be landed, and how the pledge itself should be worded.

We propose that the campaign pledge should be along the following lines:

We, the <name of party>, will practice responsible election campaigning and pledge:

  1. to include information in all our digital advertising which enables voters to identify the ad as ours;
  2. to publish our digital paid-for advertising content on a publicly available webpage;
  3. to share the substantiation of any objective factual claims used in ads on a publicly available webpage or on the ad itself;
  4. to revise or suspend claims that nominated independent fact-checking services find to be misleading.

1. To include information in all our digital advertising which enables voters to identify the ad as ours.

We believe there should be Imprints / watermarks on all digital ads as per the UK Electoral Commission’s suggestion that “all electronic campaigning should have easily-accessible digital imprint requirements, including information on the publishing organisation and who is legally responsible for the spending”.

2. To publish our digital, paid-for advertising content on a publicly available webpage.*

  • Who is paying for the ads?
  • Which organisations are sponsoring the ads?
  • Which audience is being targeted by the ads?

The above criteria were recommended by the report of the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport OnDisinformation & “Fake News”. Their aim is to ensure transparency of campaign messaging and to avoid “dark ads”. We believe that this would be a temporary measure until the “publicly accessible searchable repository [for political ads] run independently of political parties and the ad industry”, recommended in the report, is available.* Some of the online platforms have developed ad libraries, but they are, and always will be, of varying and inconsistent functionality. For example, on Twitter’s ad library ads are currently available only for 7 days. As our framework suggests, to ensure transparency we need a database that will show ads consistently across all platforms and media owners.

3. To share the substantiation of any objective factual claims used in ads on a publicly available webpage or on the ad itself.

Substantiation of objective factual claims could be included in the ad itself, or published independently and publicly together with any digital ads being used in the campaign.

4. To revise or suspend claims that nominated independent fact-checking services find to be misleading.

In the UK, all non-political ads which appear on TV or VOD and make factual claims are already, in ad terminology, “pre -cleared” by an organisation called Clearcast. This is an advisory service for advertisers which they can choose to ignore. However, the ad regulator, the  Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), rules on complaints that are submitted to it, and will take into account the advice of Clearcast in any ruling.

In the absence of a code or a regulator for political ads, we suggest using common sense in weighing the accuracy of your substantiation. You should, however, publish the source of the substantiation in the ad itself or on the same webpage as your digital ads. If one of the nominated fact-checking services finds the objective factual claims to be misleading, the advertiser should take that feedback on board and consider revising or suspending adverts containing those claims. This is a “proxy” for the role we advocate in our framework that a regulator would / should play.

It is obviously important that the fact-checking service or services chosen are respected as independent by the main parties in your country. To give an example, in the UK we have nominated three fact-checking services: Full Fact, Channel 4 FactCheck and BBC Reality Check.

This pledge is a beginning. We will update the points in it as we receive feedback.

August 2019

 

* We have prioritised transparency in digital ads to stop what are known as “dark” digital political ads (only viewable by the members of the public at whom they are targeted). However, we recommend you consider asking advertisers to take this a step further, and to publish also all non-digital, paid-for adverts in order to maximise transparency

The Green Party supports the Coalition for Reform in Political Advertising

We are delighted that The Green Party has announced it is supporting our campaign to reform political advertising.

A barrier to change historically has been the political parties agreeing to reforming the rules around political advertising.  The Green Party’s support adds significant pressure to other parties to formally demand for the rules around political advertising to be updated. The Independent Group for Change also announced support for the Coalition for Reform in Political Advertising in May.

We are a politically neutral organisation and not for profit. We are supported by many other organisations as part of our coaliton including the UK advertiser trade body ISBA.

The Green Party comments:

“At the Green Party, we support The Coalition for Reform in Political Advertising’s campaign and all of the points you are seeking support for. We have been pushing for reform of regulations around elections for some years, particularly for transparency over online campaigning where electoral law is far behind where it should be in today’s digital age.”

Phil Smith, Director General, ISBA says:

“ISBA supports the Coalition for Reform in Political Advertising’s 4 point plan and agrees there is urgency for there to be agreement in how political advertising should be more closely regulated ahead of any potential upcoming electoral processes.”

Alex Tait, Co-founder of the Coalition for Reform in Political Advertising:

“We are absolutely delighted to have the support of the Green Party for our 4 point plan for political ad reform. There is consensus from everyone we speak to on the need to urgently modernise political advertising regulation.  The barrier has historically been the political parties agreeing to it which is now finally changing. With the support we’ve been given also by The Independent Group for Change in May we’d like all the other political parties to show leadership on the issue and formally support what we are advocating too.”

We are calling on the UK Parliament to implement a four-point plan to improve the transparency and accuracy of discourse around our elections by reforming political advertising in the following ways:

  1. Legislate so that all paid-for political adverts can be viewed by the public
  2. Give an existing body the power to regulate political advertising content or create a new one to do so
  3. Require all objective factual claims used in political adverts to be substantiated
  4. Compulsory imprints or watermarks to show the origin of online adverts

Further details on our campaign can be found at https://reformpoliticaladvertising.org/background/

 

 

The Government’s response to the DCMS Disinformation and & Fake News report is significant further progress for our campaign

A key milestone in our campaign

The Government’s long-awaited response to the DCMS’s Disinformation and Fake News Inquiry was issued yesterday. This is an important milestone for our campaign, launched in May 2018, because the committee, chaired by Damian Collins MP, has conducted a thorough, wide-ranging and high-profile investigation of the topic of disinformation.

The headline is that the response is certainly more progress for the 4-point plan we’ve been championing. However, it ducks decisive action in several key areas.

Significant success for imprints and political ad transparency

To take each point of our 4-point plan in turn:

1. Compulsory imprints or watermarks to show the origin of online adverts

This certainly seems to be very positive and a definitive ‘tick’ for our plan, which is great news. The Government’s response states, ‘Candidates, political parties and non-party campaigners are currently required to have an imprint on any printed election material, to demonstrate that they have produced it. Extending this to include digital communications is essential for promoting fact-based political debate and tackling disinformation online.’ The timeframe the response gives is to bring ‘the technical proposal for this regime later on this year.’ This is certainly welcome and, as the Electoral Commission first raised the issue in 2003, long overdue!

2. Legislate so that all paid-for political adverts can be viewed by the public

The DCMS committee put forward a recommendation almost word for word what we’ve advocated in our plan, stating that ‘political advertising items should be publicly accessible in a searchable repository – who is paying for the ads, which organisations are sponsoring the ad, who is being targeted by the ads – so that members of the public can understand the behaviour of individual advertisers. It should be run independently of the advertising industry and of political parties.’

This too appears to have produced a welcome positive response. There is recognition that the solutions which platforms have developed, although good in themselves, ‘are far from perfect, and … more needs to be done to increase transparency.’ The Government proposes that the Code of Practice regarding disinformation cited in the Online Harms white paper should include the expectation that companies will ‘improve the overall transparency of political advertising on their platforms.’

However, as we’ve previously argued, the digital advertising market is complex, and audiences reached by Facebook can also be reached via various other platforms and media owners. The recommendation made was precise but the response has been much less so. We will continue to engage, with the aim of ensuring that these standards are common to all media owners and tech platforms, and that, in order to maintain its integrity, the repository is also truly independent.

Political parties need to walk the walk

3. Require all objective factual claims used in political adverts to be substantiated.

4. Give an existing body the power to regulate political advertising content or create a new one to do so

In relation to the last 2 points of our plan, the DCMS committee recommended ‘a comprehensive review of the current rules and regulations surrounding political work during elections and referenda.’  This point was also backed up recently by the Information Commissioner’s Office’s Elizabeth Denham, who made clear her disappointment with the Online Harms white paper in her evidence to the recent DCMS subcommittee, noting that it was ‘a gap’ not to have ‘a comprehensive examination … of the oversight needed’ for political advertising. You can watch this part of her testimony here.

Trust and transparency are the central themes of the Online Harms white paper. There is understandable focus on the tech platforms and foreign actors in the inquiry overall and in the Government’s responses. However, the breakdown of trust in politicians and politics currently is not going to be remedied without political parties and politicians also changing their behaviour.

The Advertising Standards Authority – the regulator for all advertising excluding political advertising – says that by far the majority of complaints it receives are over misleading claims. In his evidence, the CEO of the ASA also told the DCMS committee that ‘everyone wishes that political advertising [content] was regulated,’ including him.

Are the public going to be satisfied that disinformation in politics has been addressed, despite the ignoring of advertising content – where political parties can say almost anything they want in political ads? For a recent example, this thread, examining the untransparent campaign waged by ‘Britain’s Future’, provides a case study of the problem that would help to solve. We’ve also some well-known examples at the bottom of this page.

The Government response to this point seems a bit of a fudge. They state ‘the Government will continue to work with the Electoral Commission and political parties to identify and implement any reforms and clarifications to the law, regulations and practices around campaigning. We are committed to ensuring that the law and regulations around campaigning are up-to-date with technological advances in campaign techniques.’

Within the scope of that response we shall, of course, continue working to influence the regulation of political advertising content. We assume the newly established subcommittee on Disinformation and Fake News could be one way to do that.

Our campaign pledge offers an interim solution while we wait for legislation

In the meantime, the good news is that last week we launched our campaign pledge for responsible political advertising. Legislation can take a while to be influenced, drafted and implemented. The pledge offers a way for political parties to work to principles in line with our 4-point plan. We see it as a starting point and welcome feedback. We are delighted, however, that Change UK – The Independent Group are the first party to sign up and are implementing it immediately as part of their European Election campaign.

The pledge includes a commitment to suspend or amend objective factual claims that are deemed to be misleading by nominated fact-checking services Full Fact, Channel 4’s Factcheck or the BBC’s Reality Check as a proxy for a content regulator.

We are in conversation with several other parties. Our aspiration is to get as many as possible to sign up to it while we are waiting for legislation to be implemented. If you are a political advertiser and want to discuss the pledge, please email me. We’d love to take you through it.

Some other  areas of interest

We chose the 4 areas in our plan to be hard to argue against, so we could easily build consensus, but which would have a major impact on restoring the integrity of our political processes.

There are many other important areas covered by the Government’s response.

For example, it is doing a lot of good work with ‘the Electoral Commission on statutory Codes of Practice for registered parties and candidates on electoral expenses … [to provide] clarity on digital campaigning election expenses. The Codes should come into force for the next major elections scheduled to take place in 2021 and 2022.’

Data use and targeting are, of course, high in the public’s awareness following revelations over the last few years. The Government response also states that the ‘Chair of the [newly opened] Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI) [is] to investigate the advances in targeting and profiling practices, and consider what steps can be taken to ensure they are understood and trusted by the public, while best supporting business.’

However, as a cross-party body, the DCMS committee had asked for ‘an independent investigation into past elections – including the UK election of 2017, the UK Referendum of 2016, and the Scottish Referendum of 2014 – to explore what actually happened with regard to foreign influence, disinformation, funding, voter manipulation, and the sharing of data, so that appropriate changes to the law can be made and lessons can be learnt for future elections and referenda.’

We predict that the Government’s response on this is likely to be read as political by the media, given what the DCMS committee and the Mueller Report in the US have uncovered on disinformation. The proposal is rejected, with a claim that it cannot be done on legal grounds. However, the Government’s response goes on to state confidently that ‘there is no evidence of successful foreign interference in UK democratic processes, this includes the 2016 referendum and the 2017 general election.’

 

 

The Coalition for Reform in Political Advertising’s campaign pledge for responsible election campaigning

We are acutely aware that there could be a snap general election or decision to have a second referendum in the rest of the year.

The Government’s response to the DCMS Disinformation & “Fake News” inquiry has positively announced some legislation for political ad reform. However, as the committee discussed it will not come into force until 2020 or 2021. We would therefore like to put forward a proposal on how we can accelerate the reform of political advertising and restore the trust of the electorate in any upcoming political process by requesting that political advertisers should adopt a campaign pledge for responsible election campaigning.

We are putting the pledge forward as a starting point, and encourage feedback and further input. It is based on our 4-point plan.  We put our plan together as points we felt would be hard to argue against, so easiest to gain consensus around while also having the biggest impact. There are obviously various other areas that should be carefully considered as required by law (for example, spending limits and controls that have been looked at by the Electoral Commission). Also ensuring your campaign is compliant with GDPR.

We are a politically neutral initiative and would like all the main parties to sign up to the pledge. We are delighted that The Independent Group for Change and The Green Party are supporting our campaign. We are discussing support of the pledge with several other parties

We propose the pledge adopted should be simply:


We the <name of party> will practice responsible election campaigning and pledge to:

 1. Always include in our digital advertising information so that voters can identify the ad as ours.

2. Publish our digital paid-for advertising content on a publicly available webpage.

3. Share the substantiation of any objective factual claims used in ads on a publicly available webpage or on the ad itself.

4. Revise or suspend any claims that that our nominated independent fact checking services find to be misleading.


  1. Always include in our digital advertising information so that voters can identify the ad as ours.

Imprints / watermarks on all digital ads should be as per the Electoral Commission’s suggestion that “all electronic campaigning should have easily-accessible digital imprint requirements, including information on the publishing organisation and who is legally responsible for the spending”.

  1. Publish our paid-for digital advertising content on a publicly available webpage.*
  • who is paying for the ads
  • which organisations are sponsoring the ads
  • the audience targeted by the ads.

The above criteria are recommended by the DCMS Disinformation & “Fake News” report and are to ensure transparency of campaign messaging and to avoid “dark ads”. We believe that this would be a temporary measure until the “publicly accessible searchable repository [for political ads] run independently of political parties and the ad industry”, recommended in the report, is available.*

  1. Share the substantiation of any objective factual claims used in ads on a publicly available webpage or on the ad itself.

Substantiate objective factual claims. This substantiation could be included in the ad itself or published independently and publicly together with any digital ads being used in the campaign.

  1. Revise or suspend any claims that a nominated independent fact checking service find to be misleading.

All non-political ads which appear on TV or VOD and make factual claims are already, in ad terminology, “pre -cleared” by an organisation called Clearcast. This is an advisory service for advertisers which they can choose to ignore. However, the  Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) rules on complaints which are submitted to it, and will take into account Clearcast advice in any ruling.

In the absence of a code or a regulator for political ads we suggest using common sense in weighing the accuracy of your substantiation. You should, however, publish the source of the substantiation in the ad itself or on the same webpage as your digital ads. If one of our nominated fact checking services find the objective factual claims to be misleading the advertiser should take on board that feedback and consider revising or suspending adverts containing those claims. This is a “proxy” for the role a regulator would / should play when legislation is brought up to date.

Our nominated fact checking services are Full Fact, Channel 4 FactCheck and BBC Reality Check.

This pledge is intended as a starting point. We will update the points in it when we receive relevant feedback, and if emergency electoral law legislation is passed in the next few months.

April 2019

* We have prioritised transparency in digital ads to avoid what are known as “dark” digital political ads only viewable by the members of the public at whom they are targeted. However, we would welcome advertisers taking this a step further and publishing all non digital paid for adverts also to maximise transparency.

Ett internationellt ramverk för reform av politisk annonsering och reklam

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I maj 2018 startade vi Koalitionen för reform inom politisk annonsering (The Coalition for Reform in Political Advertising). Vid den tidpunkten fanns, så vitt vi visste, inga planer på att reformera gällande regler och lagstiftning inom området. Sedan dess har vår kampanj accelererat. En av de första organisationerna som aktivt stödde vårt arbete var ISBA, Storbritanniens motsvarighet till Sveriges Annonsörer. Därefter har vi fått stöd av såväl andra organisationer inom reklamvärlden, som företag, medborgare och icke vinstdrivande organisationer.

Som resultat av den brittiska regeringens ’Disinformation & Fake News’utredning i februari 2019, utarbetades ett antal rekommendationer avsedda att motverka desinformation. Dessa var i linje med flera av de målsättningar som vi har förespråkat för reform av politisk annonsering. I september 2019 bad utredningsledaren, Damian Collins MP, den engelska reklambranschen att ta fram en praxis för politisk annonsering som stödjer våra mål.

Andra digitalt välutvecklade demokratier runt om i världen möter precis samma frågeställningar och vi vet att reform av politisk annonsering diskuteras i många av dessa länder. Genom att dela med oss av de principer vi tagit fram, vill vi möjliggöra och förenkla för organisationer liknande vår egen att bedriva lobbying arbete utanför Storbritannien.

Vår fyrpunktsplan är inte avsedd att vara uttömmande. När vi sammanställde den var vår avsikt att skapa momentum för kampanjen genom att fokusera på de områden som skulle vara svåra att argumentera emot och som samtidigt skulle kunna ge störst effekt. För att se övriga förslag på reform av politisk annonsering, se Storbritanniens Disinformation & Fake Newsutredning här.

Vår avsikt är inte att själva starta liknande kampanjer utanför Storbritannien. Däremot hoppas vi att vårt ramverk kan användas som utgångspunkt för andra. Det kan, och bör, förändras över tiden och kan även behöva anpassas till gällande lokala regleringar och frågeställningar.

Koalitionen för reform inom politisk annonsering är en icke-vinstdrivande organisation och vi har inget önskemål om att äga ramverket eller dess innehåll. Vi delar med oss av dessa idéer som en angelägen utgångspunkt för andra digitalt välutvecklade länder. Om du vill diskutera idéerna eller få råd om hur man kan starta en liknande kampanj i ditt land, kontakta gärna alex.tait@reformpoliticaladvertising.org.

Reformer vi anser bör gälla i alla digitalt välutvecklade länder.

1/ Lagstiftning om att all betald politisk reklam kan ses av allmänheten

En sökbar datakatalog över politisk reklam online bör skapas. Denna ska innehålla information om när varje enskild annons lades upp, vem den riktades till samt hur mycket som investerats i den. Det bör finnas krav på att all politisk annonsering ska göras tillgänglig för allmänheten. Därmed skapas transparens, tydlighet och ansvar, även om det inte finns krav på legalt godkännande av annonsen. Upprättande och underhåll av datakatalogen ska ske av en part som är oberoende av reklambranschen och politiska partier.

De förändringar som Facebook och Google redan genomfört på eget initiativ bör lovordas men vi behöver normer som är gemensamma för hela branschen och inte enbart sådana som är specifika till enskilda plattformar.

2/ Introducera obligatorisk märkning av all annonsering online som anger ursprung och avsändare.

I Storbritannien finns lagstiftat krav om vattenmärkning av tryckt kampanjmaterial från politiska partier och intresseorganisationer i syfte till att tydligt kommunicera reklamens avsändare och därmed ansvarig utgivare.

Det finns däremot inga liknande krav på digitala annonser online.

Givet att nästan vem som helst kan skapa och sprida politisk reklam, blir det alltmer viktigt för väljare att enkelt kunna urskilja ’officiell’ politisk annonsering från det som läggs upp av ivriga anhängare. På så sätt kan väljare själva avgöra den vikt de ska lägga vid de politiska budskap de möts av. Ett krav på digital märkning skulle vara ett sätt att uppnå detta.

Reformer vi anser är lämpliga för Storbritannien och som bör övervägas i andra länder

3/ Krav på att alla objektiva fakta som framställs i politisk annonsering måste underbyggas.

Om en politisk kampanj vill inkludera till synes objektiva och kvantifierbara faktautlåtande som en del av sin annonsering, måste dessa utlåtande vara korrekta och kunna kontrolleras av oberoende part.

Vår avsikt är inte att sätta stopp för hoppfyllda löften eller avskräckande historier om motståndarnas planer. Det vi säger är att om man vill positionera något som fakta, så har allmänheten rätt att vara säker på att det faktiskt är fakta.

I Storbritannien finns redan en process för förhandsgodkännande av vilseledande påståenden inom reklam genom dess BCAP och CAP reklamnormer för all TV och VOD reklam riktad mot konsument. Vi anser att denna process även bör gälla för politiska faktapåståenden.

4/ Skapa ett organ som reglerar politisk reklam

Vi behöver ett organ som ser över den politiska reklamens innehåll. Det finns ingen sådan reglering i Storbritannien, vilket har varit kraftigt bidragande till de problem vi sett på senaste tid.

Storbritanniens riskdag skulle kunna åtgärda detta genom att utöka ansvarsområdet för Electoral Commission, ASA eller Election Committe of Ofcom, alternativt genom att skapa ett nytt organ.

Tillsammans utgör ovanstående 4 punkter den fyrpunktsplan som vi lanserade i maj 2018. Likafullt anser vi att även nedanstående områden är angelägna.

Målgrupper och riktning av annonser

I Storbritannien har Disinformation & Fake Newsutredningen rekommenderat att en ”praxis som betonar användningen av personlig information inom politiskt kampanjarbete och gäller för alla parter som behandlar personlig information för politiska kampanjer, ska understödjas av lagstiftning.”

Vi anser även att följande principer är viktiga

1. När reglering diskuteras ligger fokus ofta, av förklarliga skäl, på digital annonsering, precis som i den brittiska DCMS rapporten. Det råder inget som helst tvivel om att reglering av politisk annonsering måste uppdateras och anpassas till den digitala värld vi nu lever i. Dock måste den göras gällande till all politisk annonsering, inte bara den digitala.

2. På samma sätt kan det kan även finnas en tendens till att fokusera på reformer för enskilda plattformar såsom Facebook p.g.a. medias uppmärksammande av dess problem rörande sekretess. Facebook är givetvis en stor och viktig aktör, men som alla inom marknadsföringsbranschen vet, är det digitala ekosystemet för marknadsföring komplext. Sociala media plattformar är viktiga, men det finns ett behov av att uppdaterad reglering ska gälla hela det digitala ekosystemet för marknadsföring för att vi på ett effektivt sätt ska kunna motverka desinformation och falsk nyhetsspridning.

3. Vi skulle vilja tillägga att annonsörer i allt större utsträckning planerar sin kommunikation genom att se på ’consumer journeys’ som tar hänsyn till alla kontaktpunkter med konsumenter inom det alltmer fragmenterade medielandskapet. Från ett brittiskt perspektiv håller vi med Independent Commission on Referendums om att ”man bör genomföra en utredning av politisk annonsering inom press,TV och online media för att förstå reglering för varje medium och om skillnader i angreppssätt fortfarande är berättigade.” T ex bör hänsyn inte enbart tas till betald annonsering utan även till det som av marknadsföringsbranschen benämns ’owned media’, dvs alla kommunikationskanaler som kontrolleras av en organisation så som websidor, bloggar, e-mail samt även ’earned media’ så som publicitet som skapats genom olika typer av påverkan av redaktionellt material.