Google says it's banning ads from 'stalkerware' services that allow people to spy on and track others

Samantha Lee/Business Insider
  • Google is barring ads from “stalkerware” services that allow people to spy and track others through their phones without their consent.
  • Ads will no longer be allowed from companies promoting GPS trackers designed to spy on people or surveillance equipment “marketed with the express purpose of spying.”
  • Google’s ad policy changes will go into effect in August. Spyware use and stalking software have seen an increase during the COVID-19 lockdown.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Google says it will no longer allow ads from so-called “stalkerware” services that allow people to secretly access someone’s phone and monitor their activities.

Stalkerware is a broad term that encapsulates spyware and surveillance technology, which allow people to secretly monitor others through their devices without their consent or knowledge.

The new policy changes will specifically apply to”intimate partner surveillance” that includes spyware used to monitor texts, phone calls, and browsing history. It will also ban ads from companies promoting GPS trackers designed to spy on people without their consent as well as surveillance equipment, like cameras and audio recorders, “marketed with the express purpose of spying.”

However, ads from private investigation services or products and services that allow parents to track and monitor minors are exempt and will still be allowed.

The search giant said the global changes in its ad policy will go into effect on August 11.

Online spying and stalkerware apps have seen an increase of 51% in the months following the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, per findings from cybersecurity software company Avast. Activists have been advocating for more legal protection surrounding stalkerware for years. Abusive partners specifically have taken advantage of such surveillance tools to target and control victims.

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