ITALY: First Attempt to (Self)Regulate the Online Political Propaganda07 febbraio 2018 -
Di Marco Bellezza e Filippo Frigerio
On the 1st of February, the Italian Communication Authority – AGCOM – published on its website the guidelines to ensure equal treatment of parties/candidates on online platforms in view of the next general elections that will take place on March 4th. The guidelines are the result of the activities carried out by the working group set by AGCOM, with the participation of the major stakeholders including representatives from online platforms and newspapers.
The guidelines cover six main topics:
1. Political Subjects’s Equal Treatment
On traditional means (TV and radio), candidates and parties are granted equal treatment under the par condicio law (Law no. 28 of 2000). The same rules are not applicable to internet, but the working group identified general principles applicable to all communication means.
In this light, online platforms should make sure that all political actors enjoy same equal access to political communications means. It is indeed advisable, according to the working group, that they receive adequate information on the tools offered by each platform for them to carry out online political propaganda. This means that each political subject should be to choose among them freely and without discriminations.
2. Political Propaganda’s Transparency
In compliance with the law on political propaganda (no. 515 of 1993), online political ads shall clearly specify their nature of “political propaganda” and they shall clearly indicate the name of the person responsible for their purchase (so-called “committente responsabile”).
Where possible, these elements shall be included in the ad. If not, they should be indicated on the website the ad links to.
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