FEC Opening New Inquiry Into 'Net Ad Disclosures

Having reopened its docket to new comments on an existing inquiry into online political ad disclosures--which were due Nov. 13--the Federal Election Commission has voted to open a new rulemaking on the issue, according to Common Cause, which had pushed for action.

The docket was reopened in the wake of revelations that Russia bought ads on social media powerhouses--Facebook, Twitter--to try and effect the 2016 presidential election.

FEC Chairman Steven Walther had signaled Wednesday (Nov. 15) that he intended to move, at the Nov. 16 meeting, that the commission schedule a public hearing to discuss internet communications disclaimers.

"We are glad to see the FEC moving forward with a rulemaking," said Common Cause in a statement, "but the commission needs to follow through and pass rules with teeth that effectively require disclosure of who pays for online political ads. The devil will be in the details and we intend to watch those details closely. We will be urging our one million members to file more comments to keep the commission on task to drag the $1.4 billion, and growing, pool of online political advertising into the light.

Related: Eshoo Wants FCC Investigation of RT, Sputnik Broadcasts

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.