In Brief

Political parties must reveal who pays for online ads

Electoral Commission decides new rules needed to address allegations of election meddling by Russia

Political parties will in future have to disclose who is paying for their online advertising, the elections watchdog has announced.

The rule change follows allegations, repeated by the Prime Minister on Monday, that foreign actors sought to influence British elections using online platforms to push disinformation and propaganda.

 The Electoral Commission will ask political parties to provide a breakdown of digital advertising spending as well as requiring them and other campaigners to include an imprint stating who has published an advertisement.

This means political parties and campaigners “could face regulation of their tweets and other social media posts during election periods”, says Business Insider UK.

The Commission said this “would enable voters to identify who is spending money trying to influence them at elections”. The Guardian says the change will address “concerns that the public needs more information about who is behind adverts pushed on social media”.

MPs sitting on the media select committee are preparing to launch an inquiry into whether the Kremlin tried to interfere in last year’s EU referendum vote and general election. They are expected to hear from representatives of Facebook, which has admitted Russian-backed accounts paid for ads in the run up to the Brexit vote, and Twitter.

At the beginning of November, it was announced that the Commission would also investigate Ukip funder Arron Banks over donations he made during the EU referendum last year, asking whether Banks or his company, Better for the Country Limited, breached campaign finance rules.

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