Last week, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) adopted new disclaimer requirements for internet-based political advertising, including the identification of the ad sponsor. This decision resolves many of the issues that have been debated at the FEC for over a decade as to what internet content is considered a “public communication” that requires a disclosure of the sponsor of the content – and just what the disclosure should reveal. We wrote about a 2018 rulemaking soliciting comment on these issues that was just part of the process that led to the vote taken last week. While the FEC had generally acknowledged that online political ads should have some sponsorship identification, it is only now that the FEC has adopted detailed requirements for this identification. As discussed below, the proceeding requires disclosures when a sponsor pays an online platform to transmit the political message. However, the FEC postponed for another day consideration as to whether the disclaimers would be required when the sponsor pays others to promote or widely disseminate the message to platforms that are not paid (e.g., where people are paid by a sponsor to post political messages on social media sites). These rule changes will impact most media companies with websites and mobile apps, as well as the nationwide streaming services now developing ad supported platforms.
Specifically, the FEC adopted a proposal that would amend its rules to require a disclaimer on those “communications placed for a fee on another person’s website, digital device, application, or advertising platform.” The FEC also issued a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking public comment as to whether disclaimers should be required for political communications where the platform itself may not have been paid, but where the sponsor of the communication paid others to promote or otherwise broaden the dissemination of the communication.
Continue Reading Federal Election Commission Adopts New Rules for Sponsorship Disclaimers for Online Political Advertising – And to Consider Rules for Political Marketing Through Social Media Influencers