It looks like Google won’t be running political and partisan ads during this year’s election season.
According to a new report from The Globe and Mail, Alphabet’s Google will ban all political ads in Canada ahead of its federal elections this year after the country introduced stringent transparency rules.
“We’ve come to the decision that the best way for Google to comply with the Elections Act in the 2019 election cycle is actually to stop accepting elections ads as defined in the legislation,” said Colin McKay, Google Canada’s head of public policy and government relations. “It is painful for us.”
In December, the federal government passed a bill requiring online platforms, like Facebook and Google, to keep a record of all political and partisan ads published during this year’s election season. For its part, Google asked for amendments on the bill, warning the federal government that the bill would be too difficult to comply with.
Google then decided that significant alterations to its system will simply require too much work. Colin McKay, the head of public policy and government relations at Google Canada, said that the best way to make sure that the company doesn’t break the bill’s rules is to stop accepting political ads altogether.
“For the duration of the 2019 federal election campaign, Google will not accept advertising regulated by Bill C-76,” McKay said in a statement. “We’re focusing our efforts on supporting Canadian news literacy programs and connecting people to useful and relevant election-related information.”
Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould said the decision was disappointing. “Google’s decision to opt out of political advertising during the regulated period appears to have been made for business reasons and does not reflect on the quality of our laws, which are designed to protect Canadian voters and our elections,” she said.
“We know that Google is enormously capable both technically and financially,” she continued. “It should apply these resources to producing a registry in Canada that complies with Canada’s laws.”
Canada’s advertising transparency requirements will take effect on June 30th or earlier, reads the report, so Google will likely modify its system to block political and partisan ads very soon, if it hasn’t already done so.