Google has issued new ID requirements for US political advertisers, according to a company blog post on Thursday. The post was attributed to Kent Walker, a Google senior vice president.
Google said it will now require political advertisers to provide a government-issued ID and other information to confirm they are US citizens or lawful permanent residents. The new rules also include a requirement to clearly disclose who is paying for the ad.
About a year ago, Google’s technology incubator Jigsaw published Protect Your Election, free election transparency tools geared toward users at risk of online attacks. On Tuesday, Google announced that Apple’s native applications on iOS devices, including Apple Mail, Calendar and Contacts, will now be supported in one of these tools, its Advanced Protection program.
The news comes in the wake of increased scrutiny of huge, data-driven companies like Google and Facebook, particularly as Facebook grapples with the fallout from allegations that it allowed data firm Cambridge Analytica to use its customers’ data to influence millions of users in the 2016 US election. Facebook has also introduced transparency tools for its political ads.
It also comes just ahead of increased data privacy laws in the form of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a set of rules that affect the handling of European Union users’ data, no matter where it occurs, which is set to go into full force later this month.
In February, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) said it would consider additional rules and disclosure requirements for online political ads that would require online advertisements to carry the same disclaimers from their sponsors as do radio, television and print ads.
Walker also said that Google will release a new election-ad-focused Transparency Report this summer. The report will list the buyers of election-related ads on Google platforms. The company also said it — like Facebook — will build a searchable library for political ads and advertisers.
The post also touted additional initiatives:
We are also working across the industry and beyond to strengthen protections around elections. We’ve partnered with the National Cyber Security Alliance and Digital Democracy Project at the Belfer Center at Harvard Kennedy School to fund security training programs for elected officials, campaigns, and staff members. We are also supporting their “Disinfo Lab,” which will employ journalists to leverage computational tools to monitor misinformation in the run-up to and during elections.