Parliament Sitting on 6 January 2020

QUESTION FOR ORAL ANSWER


*12. Ms Sylvia Lim: To ask the Minister for Communications and Information what is the rationale for the obligations placed on digital advertising intermediaries and internet intermediaries under the Code of Practice for Transparency of Online Political Advertisements issued by the POFMA Office on 2 October 2019. 

Answer:

Mr Speaker, the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) Code of Practice for Transparency of Online Political Advertisements sets out measures that prescribed intermediaries, such as social media platforms, must implement to ensure the transparency of online political advertising.  

2. The Code requires these prescribed intermediaries to ensure that online political advertisements carry disclosure notices to inform readers of the person or organisation that had placed or paid for the political advertisements.  Intermediaries are also required to put in place other accountability measures, such as the maintenance of a database of online political advertisements, and the provision of channels for members of the public to report advertisements that are undisclosed.   

3. In drafting the Code, the POFMA Office held consultations with the intermediaries and took reference from other jurisdictions, including the EU Code of Practice on Disinformation, and the transparency measures imposed on political advertising in France and Canada.

4. Today, digital advertising tools are used pervasively on social media platforms.  Moreover, digital advertisements can be micro-targeted at specific groups using a variety of indicators.  We believe that Singaporeans should know, and indeed that our citizens would want to know, who is behind the political advertisements that they see online.  

5. The Code of Practice for Transparency of Online Political Advertisements will enhance the transparency of online political advertising, hold advertisers accountable, and enable our citizens to make informed decisions on the information presented to them through political advertisements.