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Google will no longer allow ads that encourage users to spy on people

Google has updated its ad policy which will prohibit the promotion of products that track people without their consent.

twitter-logoYasmin Ahmed | July 11, 2020 | Updated 12:02 IST
(Source: Reuters)


  • Google in its updated ad policy has emphasised that it will not encourage the promotion of spying or monitoring devices.
  • A 2018 study that found there were thousands of search terms on Google for people wanting to spy on their partners.
  • Google will allow tracking and monitoring for private investigation and parents wanting to keep track of their children.

Google has said that it will no longer allow ads on its platform that sell products or services that track or monitor people without their authorisation.

Google in its update to enabling dishonest behaviour policy an ad policy update said that this will be applicable from August 11. "The updated policy will prohibit the promotion of products or services that are marketed or targeted with the express purpose of tracking or monitoring another person or their activities without their authorization," Google said.

Google in its ad policy has emphasised that it will not encourage any sort of spying or monitoring devices without the consent or authorisation. However, Google also said that this policy will not apply to private investigation services or products or services designed for parents to track or monitor their underage children.

Other than for purposes stated above Google will stop advertising products that will include spyware/malware that can be used to monitor texts, phone calls, or browsing history, GPS trackers specifically marketed to spy or track someone without their consent.

Google will also stop the promotion of surveillance equipment which includes cameras, audio recorders, dash cams, nanny cams marketed with the express purpose of spying.

A research group in 2018 conducted a study on the "ecosystem of intimate partner surveillance spyware". The study found that many Google ads had search terms with the intention of spying or conducting surveillance, CNBC noted.

These ads broadly marketed tools to spy on user's spouses. Some of these ads read, "How to catch a cheating spouse with his cell phone" and "Track My Wife's Phone Want to Spy on your Wife? Track your Wife without her knowing. Discover Who Are They messaging. Download! 24-Hour Support Price Superiority No Jailbreaking and App Results Guaranteed."

The researchers, at the time of publishing the study, said that Google had started to restrict ads for search terms that encourage intimate partner surveillance.

"We routinely update our language with examples to help clarify what we consider policy violating. Spyware technology for partner surveillance was always in scope of our policies against dishonest behavior," a Google spokesperson said in a statement.

Google's ad policy notes that the advertisers who will continue to publish such ads beyond 11 August will have a buffer time of one week before Google starts suspending their accounts.

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