Peers call for tighter regulation of online ads to stop fake news influencing elections

Posted On: 
17th April 2018

Tighter regulation of online ads is needed in order to prevent fake news influencing the outcome of the next general election, peers have warned.

Online ads must be more tightly regulated, peers have said
Credit: 
PA

A Lords review recommends new rules which would provide greater transparency for voters, clearly showing who had paid for online ads.

The changes would introduce an “imprint” identify the source of adverts, as is currently done on paper election literature.

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Lord Lipsey, who chairs the Political Polling and Digital Media committee, said: “More needs to be done to better understand that threat and educate the population to spot ‘fake news’ and baseless propaganda online.

“One concrete step that the Government can take now is to require all online campaign communications to carry an imprint to say who published it, as is the case for the printed material, and give the Electoral Commission the power to police and enforce that rule.”

The peer warned: “Taken together, a lack of transparency and sometimes inaccurate polls, and the murky world of online political communications, pose an insidious threat to our political system.

“While we may be one of the oldest democracies in the world we must face up to these very contemporary dangers.

“Government, parliament and the polling industry must act now, before the damage goes deeper.”

The intervention comes as Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Brittany Kaiser prepares to give evidence on the subject to the Digital Culture Media and Sport committee.

Speaking to the Guardian Ms Kaiser has revealed details of Brexit campaign group Vote Leave’s dealing with the controversial data firm, and is expected to be quizzed further on the links by MPs today.

Vote Leave was accused at a previous committee hearing of colluding with other anti-EU campaigns in order to fraudulently influence the Brexit vote.