Watchdog calls for changes to digital campaigning laws

THE watchdog has called for a change in the law to make online political adverts show clearly who paid for them.

It wants online adverts to carry the same information as printed election material, which has to say who has produced it.

The director of regulation at the Electoral Commission Louise Edwards told me a new law was needed to make sure that it was clear who had paid for online advertising and make spending on digital campaigning far more transparent.

“What we need and what we’re calling for is a very clear change in the law to make parties and campaigners say on the face of their advert, who they are, who’s paid for that advert and who is promoted,” she said.

She said the Electoral Commission first recommended these changes in 2003 and is waiting for the outcome of a government consultation on the issue.

The government said it has committed to putting in place a digital imprint regime and technical proposals will be published later this year.

That will come too late for the European elections, in which the UK now looks certain to participate.

The regulator says online campaigning is becoming ever more significant in the UK, with spending doubling between the 2015 and 2017 General Elections.

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