Washington state's attorney general is suing Google and Facebook for allegedly failing to provide adequate public information about who buys election ads on their platforms.
The complaints, filed by the office of Attorney General Bob Ferguson, claim the tech giants haven't properly maintained and publicized information about who's buying election ads. The incomplete data pertains to the names and addresses of buyers, as well as the total cost of those ads and payment methods used.
Federal law requires that political ads in print and on TV indicate who purchased them, but digital advertisements don't yet require the same disclosures. In Washington state, however, any advertiser must maintain public records about political ads that anyone can browse.
Google and Facebook declined to produce that information when a local newspaper asked for it, the suits allege.
The tech platforms have faced increased criticism for their roles in enabling Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Recently, Facebook, Google, Twitter and others announced new policies to provide more transparency. Facebook will now require identity verification for anyone buying election and issue-based ads and force disclosure of the buyer. Google will have a similar policy.