Google’s clampdown on political adverts a “sticking plaster” in UK, says consumer group

November 21, 2019

Google’s new restrictions on political adverts are too little to safeguard the UK general election, according to international consumer group SumOfUs.  Over 30,000 SumOfUs members in the UK and US have called on Google and Facebook to put protective measures in place, ahead of their respective elections, to stop the proliferation of misinformation that threatens democratic processes and elections around the world. 

SumOfUs has been leading calls to big tech companies to be held accountable for their growing negative impact on freedom and democracy. Earlier this year, over 86,000 SumOfUs members pressured Google to drop “Project Dragonfly”, its censored search engine for China,  which would have facilitated the brutal repression of Tibetan, Uyghur, and Chinese-rights activists. SumOfUs is currently demanding Apple takes steps to protect freedom of expression worldwide.

Sondhya Gupta, Campaign Manager at SumOfUs, said:

“This is another example of big tech’s 'break stuff and fix it later' attitude. With only three weeks until UK voters go to the polls, Google’s policy change is akin to a sticking plaster over a gaping wound. Tech companies have had over three years since the EU referendum to get their act together and tackle the issue of manipulative online political ads.

“Google has made a concession to public pressure, but stopped short of an emergency temporary ban in the UK – yet it’s already halted political ads in Taiwan ahead of the January election there. All the while, Facebook’s entrenched position of inaction is looking less and less tenable.”