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Online ads only after certification: Poll panel

Online ads only after certification: Poll panel

Kolkata: The Election Commission has banned the display of political advertisements on cyberspace without pre-certification, an official said Wednesday.

This has been done to curb violations of the model code of conduct through use of internet and social media.

In a letter to the associate vice president, Internet and Mobile Association of India, and chief grievance officers of major social networking sites, the commission has issued directives regarding use of internet-based media by political parties and candidates.

"No political advertisement shall be accepted and displayed on internet and internet-based media without pre-certification.

"In addition, internet sites shall inform the commission regarding the expenditure incurred by the political parties/candidates on political advertisements when requested for," assistant chief electoral officer, West Bengal, Amitjyoti Bhattacharji told reporters here.

The panel also called for "active scrutiny" on the part of the internet-based media to ensure the content put up by them during the electoral process is not "unlawful" or "malicious" or "violative of the model code of conduct".

"In case of such content coming to the notice of the electoral machinery and the internet-based media, the same will be removed forthwith," he said.

Further, the amount spent on political advertisements online should be included in the campaign expenditure data. During filing of nominations, candidates would be required to submit details of their social network accounts, he said.

Regarding content (related to the elections) posted by individuals other than candidates and political parties, the commission is "considering the matter in consultation" with the ministry of communication and information technology.

The official process for the Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal began Wednesday with the panel issuing the notification for four seats -- Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar and Cooch Behar -- in the northern part of the state where polling would be held April 17.

"So far, only one candidate has filed his nomination from Cooch Behar," he said.

The notification sets the ball rolling for the filing of nominations for the first phase of the general elections in the state. The last date for filing nominations for this stage is March 26. The scrutiny of nominations would be done March 27 while March 29 is the last day for withdrawal of candidature.

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