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Google stops taking political ads in Washington state over new disclosure rules

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Following a new disclosure law coming into effect, Google has stopped taking ads in Washington state related to ballot measures and state and local elections.

In a short statement, the company said it will notify affected advertisers, and updated its political content policy to reflect the change.

The surprising shutdown is tied to new rules for advertising in the state, which require companies to keep records on who is paying for political ads, and for digital advertisers to hold information on the targeted location and reach of those ads. Google said in a statement that the shutdown was a temporary one.

“We take transparency and disclosure of political ads very seriously which is why we have decided to pause state and local election ads in Washington, starting June 7, while we assess the amended campaign disclosure law and ensure that our systems are built to comply with the new requirements,” a spokesperson said.

The change from Google comes just after a lawsuit filed by the Washington state attorney general against both Google and Facebook. The attorney general argues that the companies were already failing to comply with rules on transparency and record-keeping for political ads.

Last month, Facebook released a national, searchable archive of political ads that includes information on targeted audiences. “The tools we are introducing set a new standard for transparency in digital advertising. We are eager to hear people’s feedback as they use these features and will continue to explore how to build upon them to ensure people know who is behind the political ads they see on Facebook,” Facebook director of product management Rob Leathern said in a statement. “Attorney General Ferguson has raised important questions and we look forward to resolving this matter with his office quickly.”

Update, 1:55PM ET: Includes statement from a Google spokesperson.