Alphabet Inc.’s Google (GOOGL.O) said it will not accept political campaign advertising ahead of Canada’s upcoming federal election, citing new transparency legislation regarding all digital political advertisements published before and after voters head to the polls.

Google’s decision comes in the wake of Bill C-76, also known as the Elections Modernization Act, which was passed in December and requires online platforms to keep a registry of all political and partisan advertisements that they directly or indirectly publish. The bill was a signature Liberal measure to keep potential bad actors, either foreign or domestic, from manipulating social media to publish hate messages or so-called “fake news” that would instill uncertainty in the electoral process.

“For the duration of the 2019 federal election campaign, Google will not accept advertising regulated by Bill C-76,” said Colin McKay, head of public policy at Google Canada, in an email to BNN Bloomberg. “We’re focusing our efforts on supporting Canadian news literacy programs and connecting people to useful and relevant election-related information.”

During a committee hearing in November when policymakers met with officials from the Canadian offices of major social media firms to discuss the then-proposed bill, Google Canada’s public policy and government relations counsel Jason Kee opposed the legislation. Kee said it would require the entire online advertising marketplace to be changed, and that it couldn’t be done in time for the next Canadian election.

Canadians are expected to go to the polls no later than October to vote for the next federal government.  

Last October, Democracy Watch said a petition calling on the government to strengthen Bill C-76 was signed by more than 17,000 Canadians. The citizen advocacy group added at the time that the bill would do little to protect political parties from abusing Canadians’ personal information or to stop secret, false online election ads.

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