FPPC creates Task Force to look at regulating digital, social media political ads

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                            

March 12, 2020


For More Information Contact:

Jay Wierenga (916) 322-7761

.pdf version of news release      

The Fair Political Practices Commission, California’s governmental ethics and campaign disclosure agency, today announced the formation of a Digital Transparency Task Force to look at the issues surrounding political advertising through social media and other digital means. The Digital Transparency Task Force will study the current landscape and trends and will look at ways to keep up with the ever-changing field, including regulations that might need to be updated, enhanced, added or strengthened. The group will also be looking at ways to build in and improve transparency, including a potential public, digital data base for a one stop shop of digital ads and information.

“California voters should be able to know who is responsible for each ad they receive, and we need to find a way to stay ahead of or even shape this fast-changing digital political media environment,” said FPPC Chair Richard C. Miadich. “As one of the national leaders in government ethics, the FPPC created this task force to help set the standards and to develop best practices. My goal is for transparent digital political advertising and for the public to easily find the information they want in a publicly accessible database.”

Members of the FPPC Digital Transparency Task Force come from a variety of backgrounds related to the digital, political and media world, including campaign practitioners, digital and tech companies, academia, and good government groups, (Roster). The task force will be meeting over the course of the next few months to look at best practices not only for California but also how to collaborate with other states for practices and rules that could potentially be applied nationally.

“I welcome this chance to bring together experts in these fields, which will help the Commission craft an appropriate and effective regulatory package,” said Commissioner Allison Hayward, a member of the task force. “I also hope that the general public will participate in this process and offer constructive comments on our proposals."

Among the issues to be considered by the Task Force is whether the archive of political ads should be kept by the platforms, the government, or some combination, to what extent the Task Force should impose digital ad requirements on the platforms, what types of ads should be considered or defined as political ads for the purpose of the ad archive, to what extent, if any, the Task Force should concern itself with truthfulness and/or digital manipulation of advertisements, and what areas would require legislative action, including potential areas outside of the Political Reform Act.

Although the task force meeting is open to the public, due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak people are encouraged to take part remotely through the FPPC’s digital portal located at the top of the agenda. The FPPC created this breakthrough digital portal in the fall of 2019 to enhance transparency and public participation with the Commission.

The FPPC Digital Transparency Task Force will announce its findings and recommendations before the November election.

                                            x x x