A strict new real-time disclosure law has forced Google to suspend political advertising in the Evergreen State. “Ads related to ballot measures and state and local elections in the state of Washington, U.S.A., will not be accepted,” a new Google policy says.
Google says that it intends to comply with the law, but it doesn’t yet have the infrastructure to provide the required information so quickly.
Since the 2016 election, there has been growing concern about the lack of transparency in online political advertising. Groups connected to the Russian government bought targeted ads on Facebook and other platforms in an effort to manipulate the results of the 2016 election. A lack of transparency meant that the public didn’t know who was running the ads until after the 2016 election.
In a separate development this week, Washington state attorney general Bob Ferguson sued Facebook and Google, arguing that the online ad giants had “failed to maintain legally required information for Washington state political advertising placed on their online platforms since 2013.” Ferguson’s lawsuit is based on laws that were in place prior to this year’s legislation.
“Washington state campaign finance laws require commercial advertisers that sell political advertising to maintain information about those who purchase advertising,” Ferguson said in a press release.