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According to a new survey, Americans oppose microtargeting of political ads, which depends on access to user data.

What Americans think companies should do about online political ads

A majority of Americans want internet companies to do more to regulate the flow, transparency and content of political advertising.

A Knight Foundation-Gallup survey released Monday revealed surprisingly broad consensus among Americans that social networks, not politicians, should be held accountable for the dissemination of misinformation in campaign ads.

Americans are especially opposed to the microtargeting of political ads, which means putting a spot before a highly segmented slice of the electorate by harnessing user data collected by tech platforms such as Google or Facebook. That has become one of the most hotly disputed practices in a campaign season where deceptive marketing is seen as one of the biggest challenges to a healthy democracy.

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Record $6.9 billion in political ad spending projected

It's always the case that as campaign season heats up, the sight of political advertisements increases ever more rapidly. But this year may be different, and not in a relaxing way. A new report projects that spending on 2020 political ads will reach $6.9 billion by Election Day, shattering the previous records.

The figure is an astonishing 63 percent more than what was spent ($4.2 billion) to promote all the candidates and causes in the last presidential election year, the digital marketing research firm eMarketer said in a study out Wednesday.

The booming business of campaign advertising is just the latest reflection of how the influence of money on politics has seen unbridled growth — especially in the decade since the Supreme Court largely deregulated the world of campaign finance, allowing donors to start spending billions in often unlimited and undisclosed amounts to pay for all the ads.

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The Maryland law regulating online political ads was written by lawmakers seeking to prevent a repeat of the sort of online misinformation campaigns by Russians and others that sullied the 2016 election.

First state regulation of online political ads struck down in federal appeals court

A Maryland law intended to prevent foreign election interference by regulating online political advertising has been struck down by a federal appeals court.

At a time when controlling the surge of misleading campaign spots on social media and news sites has proved easier said than done, Maryland was the first state to expand disclosure mandates. Its General Assembly enacted a law in time for the closing months of the 2018 midterm campaign requiring such platforms to publish information about ad purchases and keep records for the state to review.

But a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals says the law unconstitutionally singles out political expression for special scrutiny and promises a "chilling effect" on free speech. The unanimous ruling on Friday, upholding a federal trial judge's position, is the latest in a series of federal judicial decisions against efforts to regulate campaign financing.

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Big Picture

TV stations fight FCC over political ad disclosure

Broadcasters are pushing back against the Federal Communications Commission after the agency made clear it wants broader public disclosure regarding TV political ads.

With the 2020 election less than a year away and political TV ads running more frequently, the FCC issued a lengthy order to clear up any ambiguities licensees of TV stations had regarding their responsibility to record information about ad content and sponsorship. In response, a dozen broadcasting stations sent a petition to the agency, asking it to consider a more narrow interpretation of the law.

This dispute over disclosure rules for TV ads comes at a time when digital ads are subject to little regulation. Efforts to apply the same rules for TV, radio and print advertising across the internet have been stymied by Congress's partisanship and the Federal Election Commission being effectively out of commission.

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