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How to implement the DSA so that the Political Advertising Regulation works in practice?

The success of any attempt to regulate political advertising in the online domain must be underpinned by a well-designed and well-functioning system of identifying political advertisements. However, Articles 5 and 9 of the proposed Regulation on the Targeting and Transparency of Political Advertising (TTPA) place more emphasis on the role of the sponsor and imposes limited obligations on online platforms and other advertising service providers to conduct identification checks for ads that are political but have not been previously declared as such by their sponsor. This would allow malign actors to circumvent the transparency obligations set out by simply not indicating that the ads they are running are political.

This, in turn, renders the entire TTPA ineffective, as only sponsors playing by the rules are effectively subjected to the obligations under the Regulation. In this context, the Digital Services Act (DSA) can play a crucial role. The TTPA will only be fit for purpose through the implementation of the DSA’s provisions on VLOPs and VLOSEs, mainly Article 35 on adequate risk mitigation measures.