Google Stops Accepting Political Ads In Maryland

Faced with a new Maryland law regarding online political advertising, Google has stopped accepting political ads in the state.

Maryland's "Online Electioneering and Transparency Act," which took effect July 1, requires Google, Facebook, Twitter and other online platforms with at least 100,000 unique monthly users to make records of online political ad buys available within 48 hours of their purchase.

A Google spokesperson says the company stopped accepting election ads in Maryland while it assesses the law. The company's systems currently are not built to collect and provide information within the 48-hour time frame set out in the law. The Baltimore Sun adds that Google doesn't always know the final price of a campaign, due to the company's dynamic pricing structure.



The company's move, announced Friday, came three weeks after it stopped accepting electioneering ads in the state of Washington. That state also recently revised its online political ad rules to require companies running digital ads to make available a host of data about the buys -- including descriptions of the geolocations and audiences targeted, and the total number of impressions generated by the ad. That state already required companies selling political ads to allow members of the public to learn information including the names and addresses of the ad purchasers and the total cost of the ad.

The new state laws come as the Federal Election Commission is considering whether to revise rules regarding online ad disclaimers in federal elections. Much of the momentum behind the new rules stems from from revelations that Russian operatives purchased campaign ads that appeared on Facebook, Google and Twitter during the 2016 presidential election cycle.

Congress is also considering the Honest Ads Act, which would require some web publishers with at least 50,000,000 monthly viewers to maintain publicly available copies of political ads purchased by groups spending more than a total of $500. The bill would also require those web companies to maintain public records about the target audience, number of views, rates charged, and dates and times of publication.

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