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In a bid to ensure transparency in election advertising, search giant Google on Tuesday announced that it will introduce an India-specific political advertising transparency report and searchable political ads library ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections due by May. The report and library will provide comprehensive information on who is purchasing election ads on Google platforms and how much money is being spent. The report and ads library, which will go live in March 2019, will enable voters to get the election-related information they need.

Google has also updated election ads policy for India which 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. Further, Google will also verify the identity of advertisers before their election ads run on its platforms.

The advertiser verification process, for political parties, businesses, non-profit organizations and individuals, will begin on 14 February. Once confirmed, the tech firm will run a disclosure “Paid for by" using the information provided during the verification process.

“In 2019, over 850 million Indians are expected to cast their vote... 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 of public policy, Google India.

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