European political parties who misuse voters’ personal data to influence elections will be subject to steep fines.
The European Commission is drafting an amendment to party funding rules that would ban political groups from profiting from data collection of the sort alleged against Cambridge Analytica. The UK-based company that worked with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is accused of improperly mining the data of millions of Facebook users.
As reported by The Financial Times, the plans are still being finalised. The sanctions are likely to amount to about 5% of the annual budget of a political party.
“It is meant to ensure that something like Cambridge Analytica can never happen in the EU,” said one official.
The proposed legislative change will be the first time EU regulators have set their sights on the data collection activities of political parties.
According to FT, the fines will apply to European political families that combine national groups under EU-wide banners such as the centre-right European People’s party, centre-left Socialists and the European Conservatives and Reformists. The commission does not have the power to directly fine domestic parties.
“We have to come closer to how political campaigning works in the offline world for the online world”, Vera Jourova, EU justice commissioner, told FT last month. “Voters and citizens should always understand when something is an online campaign, who runs the campaign, who pays for it and what they want to achieve.”
What is more, Brussels is also hammering out plans to force social media groups such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to identify and delete online terrorist propaganda and extremist violence within an hour of detection or face the threat of fines.