Big Tech, AI, Polls and Standards

Government Affairs and Professional Standards | October Newsletter
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Date 15 October 2021
Author Claudio Gennaro

Welcome to the October edition of the ESOMAR Government Affairs and Professional Standards newsletter, compiled for you by Claudio Gennaro and Srikar Govindaraju.

This month we're looking at Big Tech, AI, and celebrating standards.

Big Tech could be forced to hand over data on political ads

According to a European Commission draft proposal seen by POLITICO, Big Tech platforms including Facebook and Google could be forced to provide information on how political parties target audience via online ads. According to POLITICO, the EC will unveil this proposal on November 23rdwith the aim at ensuring transparency during elections and combat manipulation of voters via microtargeted ads on social media. To achieve its goal, this proposal should realistically include the following elements: a definition of political advertisement; a mechanism for public and private actors to request access to this information and one to deal with non-compliance (read: hefty fines).

Moreover, these proposals will not only be limited to platforms but will also apply to political parties across the bloc of the 27, who will be required to disclose information about their spending on political ads and their targeting strategies.

 Artificial Intelligence Act, what’s new?

Last week, MEPs voted on a non-binding resolution to ban police use of facial recognition technologies in public places, including private facial recognition databases and predictive analysis aimed at profiling potential criminals.

This resolution gives us an idea of what to expect during the upcoming negotiations of the AI Act, sending a clear message that the use of artificial intelligence and mass surveillance techniques in a democratic society is unacceptable, and that the EU has a central role to play in ensuring the preservation and promotion of human rights within its borders.

Indeed, there seems to be a stark contrast between some EU Member States who are always more keen on relying on AI tools to boost their security infostructure (especially border controls), and the AI Act’s lead negotiator Brando Benifei from S&D (and almost all other political groups at the EP) who has called for a blanket ban on facial recognition technologies. It should be noted that the European Commission’s proposal for this bill also aims at restricting the use of biometric identification unless needed to prevent serious crimes, so once again it will be interesting to see how privacy expectations and public security will end up co-existing.

Celebrating standards across the globe

On October 14th the International Organization for Standards celebrated World Standards Day, paying tribute to experts and the voluntary standards they help to develop. ESOMAR is a contributor to the ISO TC225 Committee which works to maintain research standards, as well as producing key guidelines as the sector and technology continue to evolve.

To mark the occasion we shared views from key ESOMAR team members involved in the standards setting and enforcement process, read what they had to say here.

Opinion Polls in the spotlight

The integrity of political opinion polls have come under scrutiny in Austria in recent weeks, after a scandal alleging that the leading political party and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, worked with a pollster to create skewed results. Opinion polling is a crucial tool in gauging public confidence, and provides valuable insights to support policymaking, and in helping people understand the views of the society around them.

ESOMAR is actively monitoring this situation as it develops, and we have reaffirmed the statement issued by our Austrian Association colleagues at the VMÖ which you can read here.

Find our guidance on opinion polls from Kathy Frankovic, member of the ESOMAR Professional Standards Committee, here.