After a year of criticism about transparency in Internet platforms, the Federal Electoral Commission today proposed stricter regulations on how the agency handles waivers of online political notices.
Rules may not be in place before midterm exams
The FEC has spent years debating how closely these ads are regulated, but Internet platforms such as Facebook and Google have escaped some of the disclosure requirements faced by other media, in part thanks to the arguments of those online platforms. . This difference in supervision acquired a new relevance as the United States dealt with Russian disinformation campaigns, and as Facebook voluntarily moved to make some changes in its advertising policies. A bill proposed in Congress that would review the waivers of online ads, meanwhile, has not gotten anywhere.
Describing the proposals as narrow, the FEC today published two possible plans to review the online advertisements, which would apply to advertisements that advocate for a candidate, asking for contributions, or that are made by a political committee. The first would essentially require that online ads comply with the same disclosure rules as their print and television counterparts by noting the source of an advertisement. The second would require that the ads contain similar conspicuous disclosures about their origins, but not in the exact same format as other media. According to the proposals, companies could still make "adaptations" to adapt to technical limitations online.
A comment period of 60 days is now open before the FEC votes on a completed proposal. Those new rules may not be in effect, however, until after the mid-term elections of 2018.