Maryland Steps Forward to Become National Leader in Transparency for Online Political Advertising

On Friday, Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland allowed the Online Electioneering Transparency and Accountability Act (OETA) to become law. The law will improve the disclosure of digital political advertising online. It will apply the same reporting standards applicable to political advertising on traditional media outlets – such as television and radio stations – to communications disseminated through online platforms. It will also introduce new record-keeping obligations for online platforms on which political advertising is purchased, giving voters important information about the sources of digital ads.

“Passing the OETA has made Maryland a national leader in the transparency of online political advertising, and should serve as a model for other states,” said Catie Kelley, director, policy and state programs at Campaign Legal Center (CLC). “While Congress does nothing to remedy the problems we had with foreign money in the 2016 elections, states are showing their commitment to making election spending more transparent in the digital age. As the spending by candidates and outside groups increasingly moves online, our disclosure laws must keep up. Maryland’s law will institute greater accountability for online platforms that host these ads, and helps root out the kind of foreign interference campaign that Russia waged in 2016.”

CLC sent a letter to Hogan in April urging him to sign the OETA.