Ref. Ares(2018)3317693 - 22/06/2018
Event on Democratic Participation and Electoral Matters
25-26 April 2018
Questions to Member States' authorities
1. Has your country introduced any measures governing the use of media and social media in
the context of election campaigns? These measures may include, but not be limited to:
i. the observance of election silence period,
ii. prohibition of disinformation (fake news)
iii. equal representation of candidates
iv. financial rules on campaigning and especially advertising limitations,
awareness campaigns or bypassing the established financial limits.
If so, please briefly list such measures and explain possible exemptions for example for social
media. If not, is your country currently considering introducing such measures in the future
and for which media?
The 2017-2022 Austrian Governmental Program mentions “clean politics” as a priority and
emphasizes that parties and party representatives showing dishonesty and exercising unfair practices
have to be made accountable. Thereby, existing legal provisions of civil and criminal law governing
manipulation, “dirty campaigning” and unfair practices should be reviewed and general information
requirements in the area of social media should be introduced.
2. Is there any existing case law in your country or relevant opinions of the electoral
commission regarding the use of media, and of social media platforms, during election
period? If so, please provide an overview.
3. Has your country introduced any transparency or disclosure requirements for political
entities advertising online in general and social media in particular? Do political digital ads
have to be explicitly labelled with an imprint? Does the funding and provenance of these ads
have to be clearly displayed?
4. In which way do you monitor the application of relevant provisions of national election laws
or other above mentioned measures? Which authority covers political ads (i.e. advertising
authority or other authorities)? Have you started to develop online archives of political
5. Would you consider a possible role for National Statisticians to play in formal fact checking
during elections, at least of certain materials where statistical data is at the core?
6. Given the importance of freedom of expression in election campaigning and the democratic
process, what is in your view the balance between formal regulation and self-regulation?
The balance should be defined by the legal barriers particularly set out by criminal law and media
7. The use of third party data sources by political parties is increasing significantly - from
companies such as Experian, Axiom etc. These data sources are then linked to electoral
registers. There are significant issues around transparency and whether the public are aware
of this. What in your view can be done to make the public more aware of how data is used in
In the course of preparing for the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation, the
Austrian parliament is currently in the process of adapting certain provisions in the election law in
order to define more clearly and make more transparent how data is used in campaigning.
8. Has your national data protection authority issued guidance on personal data processing,
including with regards to social media, in the context of election campaigns?
No. National data protection authority is not entitled to issue such a guidance.
9. Does the electoral commission in your country have any specific collaboration with data
protection authorities with regard to the issues discussed above? Is this collaboration
formalised in any way (e.g. through a Memorandum of Understanding or similar)?