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New internet communication rules released in time for 2024 election | JD Supra

More than 15 years after the Federal Election Commission (FEC) issued its first Internet Communications Regulations, and 11 years after the current Internet Communications Disclaimer Regulations began, the FEC has voted 5 versus 0 with one abstention for requiring disclaimers on other websites. communications. Previously, only advertisements placed for a fee on another person’s website or social media platform required a disclaimer. This basically encompassed “banner ads” and paid social media advertising, but nothing else. Campaigns, Super PACs and advocacy groups that spend money on advertising in 2024 will now be subject to a stricter FEC disclaimer rule for their web campaigns.

The FEC’s road to new rules

The FEC will now require that “a clear and prominent disclaimer identifying any person or persons who pay to place a public communication on the Internet” be added to all communications using the Internet that are placed for a fee on the website, another person’s digital device, application or advertisement. Platform.

Before voting on the approved rule, however, the FEC declined to adopt a portion of the originally proposed final rule that would also have applied disclaimer requirements to communications “promoted” by third parties using the Internet. Rather than including this wording, the FEC approved a new 30-day comment period during which the public can comment on whether to include such promoted communications in its definition of “public communication,” thereby triggering the requirements. FECA disclaimer. The disclaimer of “promoting” an activity on the Internet would apply to anyone or anyone paying to place the communication on the Internet, regardless of who created, produced or distributed the communication. original communication.

What will it take now?

Under the new rules, the disclaimer appearing on a public communication on the Internet must meet the following requirements:

  • Character size: large enough to be clearly readable by the recipient and warning text that is at least as large as the majority of the other text
  • Color: reasonable degree of contrast between background and text. For example, black text on a white background
  • Text or graphic: the disclaimer must be visible without end-user intervention
  • Video: the disclaimer must be visible for at least 4 seconds and visible without end-user action
  • Audio: video, graphics or text missing, disclaimer must appear in audio content

The amended rule allows certain communications to use a “tailored disclaimer”, where space or character constraints cause the full disclaimer to take up more than 25% of the communication, or where the Full disclaimer cannot be provided. The tailored disclaimer allows the funder of the public communication to be identified using a commonly understood abbreviation or acronym, as long as the full disclaimer is available via scrolling text or hovered over, pop-up screens, rotating panels, or hyperlinks to a landing page.

When will the rule come into effect?

The rule will go into effect 30 days after it is submitted to Congress for a legislative review period, so it won’t go into effect until January 2023 at the earliest. As mentioned, the FEC may change the rule after its new comment period on “promoted” Internet communications. We will therefore be monitoring developments and changes that may affect internet advocacy communications during the 2024 election cycle and beyond, and will notify you of any changes. in a future eAlert.

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