Under tremendous scrutiny from lawmakers and facing flack for improper handling of consumer’s data, technology giants are gradually trying to improve their process by opening it up for more scrutiny. Today, Google announced that it will bring more openness to election advertising online.
The announcement which has come months before the Lok Sabha Election 2019 will allow voters in India to get the election-related information including – who bought, how much ads – on Google online advertising platform like Adsense.
Google said that company will introduce an India-specific Political Advertising Transparency Report and searchable Political Ads Library to provide comprehensive information about who is purchasing election ads on Google platforms and how much money is being spent. The platform will go live in March 2019, just a month before General Election 2019.
The company informed that its updated election ads policy for India will require advertisers that are running election ads in India to provide a ‘pre-certificate’ issued by the Election Commission of India (ECI) or anyone authorized by the ECI, for each ad they wish to run.
In addition, the company said it will verify the identity of advertisers before their election ads run on its platforms. The advertiser verification process will begin on 14 February 2019, said a statement.
“In 2019, over 850 million Indians are expected to cast their vote to elect the country’s next government. We’re thinking hard about elections and how we continue to support democratic processes in India and around the world. In line with this, we are bringing more transparency to election advertising online, and surfacing relevant information to help people better navigate the electoral process,” said Chetan Krishnaswamy, Director – Public Policy, Google India in prepared statement.
The large social media and technology firms like Facebook, Twitter and Google came under sever criticism especially after 2016 US presidential election in which it was alleged that they allowed their platform to be used by Russian government to increase political instability in the United States and to damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign by bolstering the candidacies of Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein.
Similarly, Cambridge Analytica, a British election consultancy firm which was forced to closed in 2018, harvested and used personal data of millions of Facebook users to influence the outcome of elections in different countries including Brexit.