Google bans ads for surveillance software 

Starting in August 2020, Google will no longer accept ads from companies or organizations offering surveillance software.

Now, this is a policy update we can get behind.

Google Ads fights against dishonest behavior

To put everything into context, you should know that Google Ads is an online advertising platform developed by Google. Advertisers pay to display ads, service offerings, product listings, video content, and generate mobile app installs within the Google ad network to web users.

And Google announced it would update their Google Ads Enabling Dishonest Behavior policy.

This way, they’re making sure that products or services designed to enable dishonest behavior can no longer be promoted through Google Ads. That’s fantastic news, because scammers, fraudsters, or outright shady businesses will have less ad space for their offering.

So far, Google’s policies reference two types of services:

      • Products or services that help users to mislead others
      • Products or services that enable a user to gain unauthorized access to systems

Let’s take a closer look at them.

No more misleading

Any product having to do with:

      • Forged papers
      • Selling stolen credit card numbers
      • Bypassing drug tests
      • Paper-writing services

Is now off-limits for Google Ads.

And it makes perfect sense, considering these types of services are already illegal in many parts of the world.

No more unauthorized access to systems

If an ad promotes:

      • Hacking
      • Wiretapping
      • Jamming radars
      • Stealing cable

It’s no longer suitable for Google Ads.

Weeding out surveillance software

As you might have noticed, surveillance apps are not on the banned lists. That’s because surveillance software, most known as spyware or stalkerware, is rarely advertised as such.

Most often, you’ll find it labeled as parental control software. Or as a tool to monitor your team and ensure productivity. And stalkers, jealous spouses, and hackers can’t get enough of them.

I spy with my little eye…

Spyware is a type of malware that enables a person to get information about one of your devices by transmitting data covertly from it.

Spyware stays silent in the background, recording everything you do, including your passwords, browsing history, messages, and contacts, eating away at your privacy.

A major identity theft threat

If you get infected by spyware, it can have harmful consequences, since the theft of private and financial data is what most malicious parties are after.

And since identity theft is a highly lucrative business, your data is sought after.

Make sure you look out for these 9 signs your phone might be infected with spyware.

Google’s stepping in the right direction

Google will also stop accepting ads for technology that allows the monitoring of a person’s online activity. This includes access to messages, phone calls, or tracking position.

In August 2020, the Google Ads Enabling Dishonest Behavior policy will be updated to clarify restrictions on advertising for spyware and surveillance technology. Spyware and technology used for intimate partner surveillance including but not limited to 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; promotion of surveillance equipment (cameras, audio recorders, dash cams, nanny cams) marketed with the express purpose of spying. 

Google’s Advertising Policy Update


Google’s updated policy will most likely target other surveillance services, as well. This includes the promotion of surveillance equipment, like:

      • Audio recorders
      • Cameras
      • Dashcams
      • Nanny cams
The company stated that it would first issue a warning for any violation of the new policy. If an advertiser doesn’t comply with the new regulations within 7 days, it will face a suspension.

A privacy-conscientious decision

Google’s updated ads policy is a good step in curbing the rise of surveillance software and normalizing spyware.

Pairing that with IBM, Amazon, and Microsoft’s decision to stop selling facial recognition to police departments, it looks like some companies are starting to be more privacy conscientious.


But what do you think?

Is this a step that proves that we’re taking privacy more seriously?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. ⬇️


Until next time, stay safe and secure!

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