In recent years, the rules designed to safeguard against the spread of disinformation and promote healthy political debate haven’t kept up with the pace of new communication technologies.
Whether it’s using data in illegal ways or dressing up misleading claims as fact, we have seen huge increases in shady political communication practices.
I believe that our democracy is suffering because of it and that legislation in this area of public policy is grossly inadequate.
For that reason, I have co-founded a new organisation to campaign for changes that would help restore accuracy and accountability to our elections: The Coalition For Reform In Political Advertising.
Our non-partisan coalition is calling on Parliament to implement a four-point plan to reform political advertising:
- Legislate so that all paid-for political adverts can be viewed by the public
- Create a body to regulate political advertising
- Require all factual claims used in political adverts to be pre-cleared
- Compulsory watermarks to show the origin of online adverts.
The campaign isn’t anti-advertising, in fact, quite the opposite.
My co-founder, Alex Tait, is a luminary of the marketing profession – he runs brand consultancy Entropy and was formerly a marketeer at Unilever – and I have a huge affection for political advertising as a discipline.
Political advertising is so often a force for good in our democracy; it is one of the few ways in which people trying to change the world can speak directly to the electorate at scale and is an important facet of our elections.
But political advertising is now at risk of undermining democracy in the digital era.
To borrow a common political campaigning refrain: it’s time for a change.
If you are interested in joining the coalition, we would love to have you, just click here and subscribe.