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Last Friday, Public Knowledge filed comments on the Federal Election Commission’s recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking entitled, “Internet Communications Disclaimers and Definition of ‘Public Communication’.” The NPRM proposes two different methods for adding disclaimer requirements to online election ads. Public Knowledge contends that strengthening these requirements will help enable voters to make informed choices based on online ads.
The following can be attributed to Allie Bohm, Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:
“Consumers are being bombarded with online election advertising, yet there are few clear rules in place to tell consumers who is paying for these ads. Disclaimer requirements, already present in TV and radio advertising, explain who pays for an election ad and help consumers understand who is trying to influence them and why. Disclaimers also aid journalists and watchdog groups tracking issues related to fair elections, such as the disinformation campaign during the 2016 election.
“As more and more election advertising takes place online, it’s time for the FEC to extend the disclaimer requirements that already exist for television, radio, and print election advertising to online election advertising. Consumers deserve to know who is behind election messaging and who (or what) wants to influence their vote.
“The FEC put forth two competing proposals to address this issue. Unfortunately, only one option -- Alternative A -- provides voters with clearer information about the election ads they see online. We urge the FEC to adopt our suggested improvements to strengthen this proposal. The second option appears to exist solely to keep voters in the dark about who is purchasing online election ads -- and in a healthy democracy that’s just no option at all.”
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