Insights European Data Protection Supervisor says stricter rules are necessary for online targeting for political advertising


The EDPS has published an Opinion on EU legislators’ proposed Regulation on transparency and targeting for political advertising, which was published in November 2021 as part of a larger legislative package on “Democracy and Integrity of European Elections”.

In his Opinion, the EDPS welcomes the overarching aims of the proposed Regulation, saying that by laying down rules and obligations for providers of political advertising and related services to be more transparent in their use of targeting techniques, the proposal seeks to promote free and fair elections in the EU, therefore strengthening the EU’s democratic process.

However, the EDPS recommends that EU legislators consider stricter rules concerning online targeted advertising for political purposes, in addition to the proposed measures to make this type of advertising more transparent.

In particular, the EDPS recommends that the proposed Regulation include a full ban on microtargeting for political purposes, which consists of targeting an individual or a small group of individuals with political messages according to some of their perceived preferences or interests revealed by their online behaviour.

The EDPS also considers that further restrictions should be put in place concerning the categories of personal data that may or may not be processed for the purpose of political advertising, including when political advertising involves the use of targeting and amplification techniques. Specifically, the use of targeted advertising based on pervasive tracking for political purposes should be prohibited.

The EDPS makes other specific comments and recommendations on the proposal, including: (i) its relationship with the existing legal framework on data protection; (ii) the roles and responsibilities of those involved in political advertising; and (iii) cooperation among the authorities responsible for the supervision and enforcement of the proposed Regulation, including data protection authorities. To read the EDPS’s press release in full and for a link to the Opinion, click here.