UK Government to force campaigners to publish funding for online ads

Written by John Johnston on 9 April 2018 in News

Under new plans all online ads will require an imprint detailing the candidate and the agent paying for them

Image credit: Pixababy

Campaigners will be forced to make it clear who paid for online ads in a bid to halt election interference, under plans being announced by the UK Government.

All online ads will require an imprint detailing the candidate and the agent paying for them, bringing the cyber space in line with the rules for printed election material, according to reports in the Daily Telegraph.

Under the new rules, campaigners who fail to declare their links to political ads properly could face an unlimited fine.

Officials said the changes would make it "an electoral offence to engage in electronic campaigning without an imprint or with a fraudulent imprint".

It is hoped that the crackdown, partly prompted by suspected Russian interference in UK elections, would address the use of ‘fake news’ in election campaigns.

An official said the changes “will help address organised anonymous, abuse. But it will also address fraudulent and 'fake' campaigning by hostile third parties”.

"This is about organised campaigning - including the use ‘Twitter bots’ and online Russian ‘troll factories’”, another added.

Any online campaigns which lacked an imprint could be immediately flagged as suspicious.

Conservative party chairman Brandon Lewis said that the changes would bring “analogue electoral law” into a digital age.

"Candidates of all political colours are facing unwarranted anonymous abuse and hatred," he told the paper.

"And there are serious concerns about hostile state actors looking to interfere in Britain’s free and fair elections.

"Extending the long-standing imprint rules to digital campaigning will be a simple but effective step to ensure the sunlight of transparency in political campaigning.”

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