That is the damning conclusion of a new report by the Electoral Commission, which regulates party and election finance in the UK, which insists new measures are needed because of "the increasing use of online and targeted digital communications with voters, as well as concerns about recent allegations of misinformation, misuse of personal data, and overseas interference".
The report, "Digital Campaigning: Increasing Transparency for Voters", sets out a number of key recommendations, after claiming that legislation has fallen behind the technological capabilities of digital political advertising.
The report notes that it can be very difficult to find out where a particular ad or message originated from due to the use of 'astroturfing', software bots promoting particular points of view, so-called troll farms and 'fake' social media accounts.
To improve transparency it recommends that all online campaigns should feature an identifying digital imprint, as is required for printed materials. This was a requirement in the Scottish Independence referendum, and the Commission judges it to have worked "fairly well".
The digital campaign asset trail should be made much clearer, it says, with political parties required to provide "more detailed and meaningful invoices" from their digital suppliers to improve transparency.
In another recommendation, the Commission says all UK election and referendum ads on social media platforms should be labelled to make the source clear.
Electoral Commission chair Sir John Holmes said: "Urgent action must be taken by the UK's government to ensure that the tools used to regulate political campaigning online continue to be fit for purpose. Implementing our package of recommendations will significantly increase transparency about who is seeking to influence voters online, and the money spent on this at UK elections and referendums."
The Information Commissioner's Office recently claimed its investigation into the use of data analytics for political purposes is the largest investigation ever undertaken by a data protection authority, with over 60 experts working on the case. The ICO is quizzing over 30 organisations.