Mitigating microtargeting: Political microtargeting law in Australia and New Zealand

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Abstract

To the detriment of liberal democracy, governments have struggled to prevent the exploitation of personal data for voter manipulation in the digital era. Laws pertaining to political microtargeting are often piecemeal and tend to derive from a combination of laws on electoral advertising and privacy. Evidence indicates that this approach is insufficient to curtail microtargeting. However, little is known about the regulation of microtargeting outside of the European and US contexts within which the bulk of anti-microtargeting research has been undertaken. Accordingly, this paper aims to shed light on the preparedness of the law in Australia and New Zealand to mitigate the potential harms of political microtargeting. A comparative analysis of legislation pertaining to microtargeting is therefore undertaken using a blended approach of comparative law and content analysis. This paper: (1) identifies current legislation relevant to microtargeting in Australia and New Zealand; (2) assesses patterns of similarity and difference between each country's laws in relation to microtargeting; and (3) evaluates the preparedness of current legislation to curtail microtargeting in an evolving social media landscape. It finds that in both countries, legislation is sufficiently robust to mitigate microtargeting in some limited circumstances, but a cohesive regulatory approach is needed to constrain the most insidious microtargeting operations.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalRegulation and Governance
Early online date22 Nov 2023
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Nov 2023

Keywords

  • comparative law
  • data-driven campaigning
  • digital regulation
  • political microtargeting
  • social media

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