Google strikes down hard on stalkerware, spyware ads

Tech giant Google has announced that it will ban ads promoting harassing software, spyware, and other types of surveillance technologies that are used to track someone else’s activity without their consent.

The company announced this new change as part of an upcoming Google Ads policy update. This new change will be applicable from August 11, 2020. Google has also mentioned examples of products and services that advertisers will not be able to promote through Google Ads in the future. These include

  • Spyware and technology used for intimate partner surveillance include, but are not limited to, spyware / malware that can be used to monitor text messages, phone calls, or browsing history
  • GPS trackers marketed specifically to spy on or track someone without their consent
  • Promotion of surveillance equipment (cameras, audio recorders, dash cameras, nanny cameras) marketed for the express purpose of spying.

However, the company has also mentioned that the list does not include private investigative services or products or services designed for parents to track or control their minor children.

Google also said that violation of this policy will not lead to immediate account suspension without prior notice. A warning will be issued, at least 7 days, before any suspension of your account.

For those who don’t know, stalkerware refers to spyware apps that are made for couples that would install them on their partner’s device without their consent to track their location and other smartphone activities.

A reproach from Kaspersky also reveals that the number of users who have stalkerware-like applications installed on their smartphones increased from 40,386 in 2018 to 67,500 in 2019.

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