Bill Banning Microtargeted Political Ads Draws Crowd

Rep. Anna Eshoo
Rep. Anna Eshoo

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) has collected a number of supporters for her bill banning microtargeted political ads.

Those backers include Mozilla, Common Cause, the Center for Digital Democracy, and the Open Markets Institute. 

The idea behind the bill is to battle coordinated disinformation/misinformation campaigns. 

H.R. 7014, the Banning Microtargeted Political Ads Act, would prohibit social media sites, streaming services and ad networks from targeting political ads based on demos or behavioral data.  

It applies to all electioneering communications, meaning both candidate and noncandidate ads. 

The Federal Election Commission will enforce the prohibition and there will be a private right of action as well, class action suits for example. 

The bill does allow ads targeted by state, municipality and congressional district and targeted to individuals who opt in to targeted ads.   

“Political speech is critical to democratic discourse, but organized disinformation and organic misinformation use microtargeting and prevent ideas from being debated in the open. Changing how paid political messaging works online could be a powerful step forward in response to the ongoing challenges of disinformation and manipulation of our democratic processes, whether by candidates, PACs, or others. We appreciate this legislation and the thoughtfulness of Rep. Eshoo in moving this discussion forward,” said Heather West, head of Americas public policy at Mozilla. 

According to a recent poll cited by Eshoo's office, a majority of both Republicans (75%) and Democrats (69%) oppose using personal information for hyper-targeted political ads.  

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.