Google stops taking political ads in Maryland because it's not sure that it can comply with a new transparency law

US Ballot boxes electionPAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty ImagesVoters cast their ballots on Election Day November 04, 2008, at Centreville High School in Clifton, Virginia. Americans crowded polling stations Tuesday to vote in their historic election, with front-running Democrat Barack Obama seeking to become the first black US president and Republican rival John McCain battling for a comeback.
  • Maryland’s General Assembly now requires that those buying political advertising identify themselves and how much they spent.
  • Google executives are unsure that they can comply with the law, according to a report in the Baltimore Sun.
  • This is just the latest fallout for some of the big online advertisers following revelations that people representing the Russian government bought ads to subvert elections.

Google says it wants to comply with Maryland’s new election law that requires anybody paying for political ads to disclose their identity and how much they spent.

The trouble is that Google’s systems aren’t set up yet to gather or report that information before the law goes into effect on Sunday, the Baltimore Sun reported on Friday. Because of that, Google has stopped selling ads connected to Maryland’s state and local elections.

“Starting June 29th, we will stop accepting state and local election ads in Maryland while we assess the new election ads disclosure law and ensure our systems are built to comply with its new requirements,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement.

Maryland’s general assembly passed the law to help prevent election tampering. This is part of the backlash to allegations that the Russian government bought ads on social media and internet services to sway the last US presidential election.

Russian operatives are accused of paying tens of thousands of dollars to run ads on some of Google’s ad platforms, according to The Washington Post story in October.

The irony is that Maryland’s election law doesn’t affect elections for federal posts, such as president or US senator.

Google told the Sun that the company agrees that there should be more transparency in political advertising, but that how the law will be interpreted remains unclear.

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