Online Political Ad Bill Nears Introduction

Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) are expected soon to introduce a bill requiring disclosures on online political ads.

That comes in the long and extending wake of the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, including buying ads on Facebook in an effort to affect the outcome.

Online advertisers were looking to make sure the bill did not impinge on commercial speech in the bargain.

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"Online ads are the fuel that powers the unlimited expressions and presentations of free speech on the open internet," said Dave Grimaldi, executive VP of public policy for the Interactive Advertising Bureau. "Growing the vibrant media ecosystem, keeping the public trust, and enhancing the transparency of our industry – for online ads in particular – are goals we share with Senators Klobuchar and Warner. We look forward to working with them to advance this shared objective while maintaining and protecting the First Amendment rights political ads embody."

A spokesman for Warner's office said the bill would not be introduced Thursday (Oct. 5), as some had speculated, and that the draft had changed since a letter was sent seeking co-sponsors last month.

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.