The IPA has called for a moratorium on micro-targeted online advertisements in political campaigns. Against all the noise around the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook scandals, it is quite shocking that politicians have not already called for this.
Micro-targeting in political campaigning is remarkably un-regulated. The potential for technology to get inside the minds of potential swing voters and influence their voting behaviour without them, or anyone else, being aware of it, is clearly a serious threat to both democracy and the right to freedom of thought of targeted individuals.
It is interesting to see that, in one of the most fundamental ethical questions of our time, one that could shape our political and social destinies, it is left to the advertising industry to take the lead.
The investigations into the Cambridge Analytica's activities in the UK from the ICO and the Electoral Commission will only scratch the surface of the issue. What is needed is a much more fundamental look at what should and should not be allowed in political campaigning online - regardless of who is paying for it and whose data they are using. It is time for politicians to step up and give our democracy the protections that it needs, no matter which way they would like us to vote.
"The process of democracy has been overtaken by the possibilities of technology; the question is how do we manage that and safeguard it? We’re entering a phase where electioneering loses its accountability because we’re not otherwise keeping step with what technology can do to influence the process and potentially corrupt it."