On 13 November 2017, the European Commission launched a public consultation on fake news and online disinformation. Further to the consultation, on 26 April, the Commission published the Communication on Tackling Online Disinformation: A European Approach. The proposed approach is a comprehensive, non-regulatory one. One of the deliverables signalled in the Communication, the Code of Practice on Disinformation was released on 26 September.
On 29 January 2019, the European Commission published the first reports submitted by signatories of the Code of Practice on Disinformation. IAB Europe and other trade associations from the advertising industry submitted notes on responsibilities and activities in relation to the Code, alongside more detailed papers from individual signatories. IAB Europe’s reporting comprised background information on engagement in development of the Code, as well as information on the trade signatory responsibilities, and aggregated reporting to track and identify different brand safety activities and policies to be submitted in September.
Publication of the first reports was announced by Commissioner Gabriel during the Commission’s Conference: ‘Countering online disinformation’, the objective of which was to provide an opportunity to evaluate the EU’s approach to the phenomenon, whilst also reflecting upon the way forward in view of the upcoming European Parliament elections. The Commission noted positive efforts to raise awareness about the Code, but also highlighted the absence of corporate signatories, stressing the key role that brands and advertisers play in the efforts to demonetise purveyors of disinformation. IAB Europe participated in a panel discussion of the Code’s signatories at the conference. Since then, the Commission focused on obligations of the individual signatories, who have been submitting monthly reports, as well as other work tracks aimed at lowering the risk of disinformation affecting the EU elections, deriving from the Joint Action Plan to tackle disinformation.
In November 2019, the Commission will carry out a comprehensive assessment at the conclusion of the Code’s initial 12-month period. Should the implementation and impact of the Code prove unsatisfactory, the Commission may propose further actions, including action of a regulatory nature.