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European political parties to be fined for misusing personal data – Commission

The European Commission is working on a set of amendments to Party funding rules that would ban and impose heavy fines on European political parties who misuse and profit from voters’ personal data.

The amendments are being drafted to prevent a situation similar to the one where UK-based company Cambridge Analytica is being accused of selling data of millions of Facebook users to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, according to an article published in The Financial Times.

It is believed that the sanctions are likely to amount “to around five per cent of the annual budget of a political Party”.

The fines will apply to European political groups such as the centre-right European People’s Party, centre-left Socialists, or Eurosceptic European Conservatives and Reformists Group. The Commission does not have the power to directly fine domestic parties.

The draft amendment will have to be approved by EU governments and the European Parliament to come into force.

Brussels will also issue recommendations to governments to clampdown on the practice of groups sending personalised political messaging to social media users without their consent — “micro-targeting”. There will also be stricter transparency requirements on online political advertising in local laws, The Financial Times reported.

The commission is also drawing up plans to force social media groups such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to identify and delete online terrorist propaganda and extremist violence within an hour of detection or face the threat of fines.

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