Google will now demand online advertisers provide proof of identity and location

The company is clamping down on fake content and scams by expanding checks previously reserved for political advertising.

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Google is expanding a political advertiser verification program to every promoter on the firm's platform in a clampdown on scams and misleading content. 

Paid, online promotions are often used as a tool to advertise not just legitimate products but also fake goods, misinformation, and fraudulent websites or content. 

While companies including Google will generally oblige and remove fraudulent ads when they are reported, being unable to verify the source of an advert does reduce ad transparency and may erode our ability to make informed decisions.

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Since 2018, Google has implemented a verification policy for political advertisers. As there are concerns that fake political ads and misinformation generated from countries including Russia to sway the results of elections, promoters on the platform are now obligated to provide proof of identity to boost ad transparency. 

The verification program for political, paid ads is operational in 30 countries. Now, the Mountain View, Calif.-based firm intends to expand the same checks for all paid advertising going through Google's platform.  

In the past, Google has requested names but no proof of ID. According to John Canfield, Director of Product Management at Google's Ads Integrity arm, things are now set to change. 

On Thursday, Canfield said in a blog post that all advertisers will need to provide personal identification, business incorporation documents, or other records that prove who they are before being permitted to pay for ads on Google's network. This includes their country of origin. 

Google will give advertisers a 30-day window to submit documents. If they do not, or they fail the firm's verification checks, their sponsored ads will no longer be served. 

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"This change will make it easier for people to understand who the advertiser is behind the ads they see from Google and help them make more informed decisions when using our advertising controls," the executive said. "It will also help support the health of the digital advertising ecosystem by detecting bad actors and limiting their attempts to misrepresent themselves."

Given the size and scale of such a project, this change in the rules is going to take Google a long time to implement fully. However, the company says that users can expect to see some disclosures from the summer, which will be accessible through a tab when users hover over an advert.

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The scheme will begin in the US and will be expanded globally over time. Advertisers in gambling, gaming, education, health, retail, and charities are among the priority areas Google intends to tackle first. 

Google expects a full rollout to take several years to complete. 

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On Monday, Google Cloud rolled out BeyondCorp Remote Access, a new solution designed to bridge the gap between devices used at home and internal corporate web applications. As many of us are now working remotely, the tool aims to give employees a means to securely access company resources once only available in the office. 

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