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CLC Event Focuses on Need for Stronger Digital Ad Transparency Laws

Congress and the Federal Election Commission should create stronger transparency rules and enforcement laws for digital ads. 

Windows for different websites stacked on top of each other showing Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Google ads

Campaign Legal Center (CLC) hosted the virtual event “So Many Digital Ads, So Little Regulation: Why We Need Digital Ad Transparency Now.”

CLC experts, Erin Chlopak, director, campaign finance strategy, Maggie Christ, senior researcher, and Austin Graham, legal counsel were joined by special guest, Lauren Edelson, Ph.D. candidate in computer science at New York University’s Tanden School of Engineering.

During the current election cycle, digital political ad spending is expected to top $1.3 billion. Yet most of that spending will remain undisclosed because our transparency laws have a huge digital blind spot. Unlike pre-election ads on television and radio ads, which are legally required to include “paid for by” disclaimers, most digital political ads are exempt from those requirements.

While some platforms have taken some small, voluntary steps to be a little more transparent, we cannot continue to leave it to the platforms to police themselves. Congress and the Federal Election Commission must step up and provide the basic transparency rules and enforcement that are essential to protect our democracy and voters’ right to know.

Examples in CLC’s new report “How the 2020 Elections Remain Vulnerable to Secret Online Influence” highlight the need to close loopholes in digital ad transparency laws.

To reduce political corruption, we need real transparency about who is spending money on digital ads. Voters have the right to know who is trying to influence their vote.

Read the full report here.

Event Video




Erin Chlopak

Campaign Legal Center
Senior Director, Campaign Finance