In response to today's publication of the European Democracy Action Plan, Nienke Palstra, Senior Campaigner in the Digital Threats team at Global Witness said:

“Today’s EU Action Plan takes an important first step towards safeguarding European democracy, promising legislation to protect citizens from the very real harms created by the micro-targeting of political ads. 

“Voter suppression, privacy violations, polarisation and extremism are all enabled by the micro-targeting tools created by Big Tech. Their voluntary attempts to clean up their platforms are too often ad hoc, patchy, and easily reversed — not least during the recent US 2020 elections. 

“The Commission’s proposal for legislation on the transparency of online political content in 2021 must include a clear restriction on the micro-targeting of online political content. Only the broadest methods of targeting political content, such as by voting district, should be allowed. There’s no place for targeting people by race, gender, sexuality or past online behaviour in a healthy democracy. 

“This will be a long road from the Plan to reality, facing one of the most powerful corporate lobby forces in Brussels. If we are to bring political debate fully into the open and ensure EU rules are fit for the digital age, political content should be visible to all.”