Google to ban ads for spying



Starting next month, Google will ban ads for products or services that secretly track people, the global technology company announced on Friday, July 10.

“We constantly evaluate and update our ad policies to ensure we are protecting users,” Google said in a statement. “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.”

The company’s “Enabling Dishonest Behavior” policy has been updated to prohibit spyware and technology used for intimate partner surveillance including the ability to monitor texts, phone calls, browsing history, GPS trackers marketed to spy on someone without their consent and promotion of surveillance advertised with the express purpose of spying.

This policy will apply globally on August 11. Violators of the policy will be issued a warning at least seven days prior to a suspension of the account, Google said. The new rules do not apply to private investigation services or products designed for parents to monitor their underage children.

Two years ago, a joint university study titled “The Spyware Used in Intimate Partner Violence” found survivors of domestic violence increasingly report that abusers install spyware on devices to track their location, monitor communications and cause emotional and physical harm.

Researchers revealed that a Google search of the word “cheating” or phrases such as “how to catch a cheating spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend or wife” came up with more than 27,000 websites offering a variety of resources aimed to help people spy.

In May, Apple and Google-parent Alphabet said they would ban the use of location-tracking software as part of a contact tracing app built to combat COVID-19 because it could compromise privacy.

Contact tracing is the practice of tracking people infected with the virus and then mapping out where they’d been since presumably becoming infected. Rather than use the GPS tracking program, Apple and Google’s software plans to utilize Bluetooth signals to track encounters.

The collection of location data comes with a warning from privacy experts, who say that accumulating that data could lead to breaches or exposed data later on that could compromise security for people.


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