Google will soon prohibit ads on its platform that promote stalkerware products and services – but the tech giant’s ban comes with a catch that some security experts worry will render it ineffective.
Starting August 2020, Google’s ads policy will be updated to ban advertisements for stalkerware, which is software that can be installed on devices to track their owners’ location, activity and more. Google said, violations of this policy will first lead to a warning being issued for at least seven days prior to any suspension of one’s account.
“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,” according to Google’s Advertising Policies page. “This policy will apply globally and we will begin enforcing this policy update on August 11, 2020.”
According to Google, stalkerware technology includes spyware or malware that can be used to monitor texts, phone calls, or browsing history; or GPS trackers specifically marketed to spy or track someone without their consent. It also includes promotion of surveillance equipment (cameras, audio recorders, dash cams, nanny cams) marketed with the express purpose of spying.
However, Google said that its ban on stalkerware ads will not extend to private investigation services or services designed for parents to track or monitor their underage children – which some are condemning as a big loophole for surveillanceware companies.