Internet Association: Political Ad Regulations Should Apply To All Platforms

The Silicon Valley lobbying group Internet Association says that any new laws regarding online political advertising should apply to all ad platforms.

"A solution to this problem will only be effective if every participant in the ecosystem works together to address it," the group said Tuesday in new election advertising principles aimed at influencing lawmakers. The organization counts Amazon, Google, Facebook and other tech giants among its members.

The group released its principles the same day that executives from Twitter, Google and Facebook testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about Russian interference in the last election. The move also comes as lawmakers are considering the proposed "Honest Ads Act," which would require digital platforms with at least 50,000,000 monthly viewers to maintain publicly available copies of political ads purchased by groups spending more than a total of $500. The proposed law would also require those platforms to maintain public records about the target audience, number of views, rates charged, and dates and times of publication.

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The Internet Association's statement of principles also calls for new obligations for advertisers. "Legislation should require advertisers to provide information to platforms that enables disclosure about the advertiser’s identity even if they place ads through an agency or other intermediaries," the Internet Association writes. 

In addition, laws should empower the Federal Election Commission to beef up efforts to regulate online political advertisers, the Internet Association says. The current rules require some disclaimers on certain types of online ads, but not to the same extent as ads on TV. For instance, in 2010, the Federal Election Commission ruled that Google can run pay-per-click political ads without including disclaimers in the copy, provided that the text displays the URL of the sponsor's site, and that the landing page has a disclaimer. The Internet Association says the FEC should be empowered to "provide a uniform standard of disclosure for such ads that are displayed across the country."

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