IPA welcomes Electoral Commission call for electoral law reform, but calls for Government to go further

The IPA has welcomed the Electoral Commission’s recommendations for immediate action to improve election rules and strengthen financial regulations. However, due to the limited remit of the Electoral Commission, whose focus is on campaign expenditure, the IPA believes the Government should take further measures.

In the absence of political message regulation and to drive transparency of political debate, the IPA has therefore renewed its call for:

  • A moratorium on micro-targeted political advertising online. During this cessation, we would like to agree a minimum limit for numbers of voters sent individual political messages.
  • A public register that would require all political advertising creative work to be listed for public display

Says IPA President and CEO, The&Partnership London, Sarah Golding:

“There is a far-reaching debate taking place with regard to how fast-evolving technology and its use/misuse is impacting the democratic process of the UK and western liberal democracies at large.

“As the Electoral Commission’s Chair, Sir John Holmes, says himself, no single body is responsible for all the concerns raised by digital campaigning. Therefore, while we very much support the Electoral Commission’s findings that urgent improvements are needed to ensure transparency for voters in the digital age, we think that in addition to their financial and regulatory recommendations, the Government should and could go further.

“We have watched with mounting concern the apparent use of advertising targeting technology, benignly designed for commercial product and service messaging, to have been deployed for micro-targeted political advertising. Hence why we are renewing our call to cease online political micro-targeting and for a registry of all political advertisements to be publicly accessible.

“Ultimately, in the absence of self-regulation, we believe micro-targeted, political advertising online is an opaque form of political communication, vulnerable to abuse. It is incumbent upon us to shine a light on this, get it out into the public domain and make us all more accountable. Only through this transparency can we begin to rebuild and regain trust.”

Read the Electoral Commission’s statement and report, in which the IPA’s call for further action is mentioned (p15).

Read the IPA’s full statement, announced in April 2018.