Google says Pofma the reason for it not accepting political ads
Google has explained its decision to stop accepting political advertisements here by pointing to a Code of Practice under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma).
The Internet giant did so after it was criticised by the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) over its ban on political ads.
In a press release on Tuesday, SDP said the party's chairman, Professor Paul Tambyah, had written to Google chief executive Sundar Pichai to ask about the tech giant's policy after SDP's failed attempts to purchase ads on its platforms.
In his letter, Dr Tambyah said that SDP has been highly dependent on the Internet to reach the people of Singapore, adding that this was why the party was disturbed to hear of Google's new political content policy for Singapore.
He said that online ads ensure that "Singaporean voters are not deprived of information as they make their choices in the coming election".
However, Google told The Straits Times that it did not receive any political ads from the party.
In the e-mail exchange shared by Dr Tambyah, Google vice-president of Asia-Pacific government affairs and public policy Ted Osius said: "Where applicable, we support political advertising consistent with our policies.
"However, in the case of Singapore, we decided we will not accept advertising regulated by the Code of Practice for Transparency of Online Political Advertisements.
"This was not an easy decision to make as Google is committed to delivering useful and relevant election-related information to users around the world."
He added that Google had made similar decisions elsewhere, such as in Canada and Taiwan.
The code cited by both Google and SDP came into operation on Oct 2 this year and sets out the obligations that digital advertising companies have to comply with to enhance transparency of online political ads.
Among other conditions, the code requires them to verify the eligibility of advertisers, ensure that ads are accompanied with disclosure notices and keep records including details such as the amount paid for the ad, the target audience and total number of views.