An important part of the democratic debate takes place in the online sphere, but many countries struggle to apply regulatory frameworks in this arena. Frameworks to regulate and oversee online political advertising and microtargeting are still in their infancy. In 2020, International IDEA increased its work on online political advertising and microtargeting.
As part of International IDEA’s work on this issue, a June 2020 webinar series co-organized by the European Commission and the Dutch Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations focused on the understanding, regulation and oversight of online political advertising and microtargeting. It gathered European Union (EU) officials, oversight bodies from 24 countries, and academic and civil society experts. The Regional Europe Programme subsequently submitted a position paper to the EU’s online public consultation on the European Democracy Action plan, including recommendations covering the main takeaways from the webinar series. On 4 December, the EU released the Action Plan, in which online political advertisement was a central theme. By partnering with EU and an IDEA EU Member State, International IDEA gained authority and credibility for its work on the topic. The topic of online political advertising has become a top reform priority across Europe.
In November 2020, the Dutch Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations invited REP to lead the development of a Code of Practice for social media companies and political parties to help ensure the integrity of the 2021 elections in the online sphere. Besides recent expertise on online political advertising, this work will build on the Institute’s experience with similar codes in Latin America and elsewhere.