Governor Jerry Brown signs bill that creates new advertising rules for online platforms

Last week, Governor Jerry Brown signed a measure that amends the Political Reform Act to place new duties on “online platforms” that display political advertisements, AB 2188 by Assemblyman Kevin Mullin (D-South San Francisco).

The law defines “online platform” to mean “a public-facing Internet Web site, web application, or digital application, including a social network, ad network, or search engine, that sells advertisements directly to advertisers. A public-facing Internet Web site, web application, or digital application is not an online platform for purposes of this article to the extent that it displays advertisements that are sold directly to advertisers through another online platform.”

For qualifying online platforms, the law requires the platform to maintain, and make available for online public inspection, a record of any advertisement disseminated on the online platform by a committee that purchased five hundred dollars ($500) or more in advertisements on the online platform during the preceding 12 months.

The online platform shall retain a record that contains all of the following: (A) A digital copy of the advertisement; (B) The approximate number of impressions generated from the advertisement and the date and time that the advertisement was first displayed and last displayed; (C) Information regarding the range charged or the total amount spent on the advertisement; (D) The name of the candidate to which the advertisement refers and the office to which the candidate is seeking election, as applicable, or number or letter of the ballot measure and the jurisdiction to which the advertisement refers; (E) The name and identification number of the committee that paid for the advertisement.

The bill becomes effective Jan. 1, 2020.