tech

Google bans ads that offer to track your wife's phone, spy on your husband

This new rule also applies to products like software or GPS trackers that are marketed for their ability to spy on people without their knowledge and surveillance equipment like audio recorders, cameras, dash cams, nanny cams etc.

FILE PHOTO: A logo of Google is seen at an office building in Zurich, Switzerland July 1, 2020.   REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
FILE PHOTO: A logo of Google is seen at an office building in Zurich, Switzerland July 1, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann (REUTERS)

In an ad policy update, Google has announced that it will no longer support ads for any product or service that tracks or monitors users without their authorisation. Google said they will apply this new rule to spyware and technology used for intimate partner surveillance including technology that is used to monitor texts, calls and browsing history.

This new rule also applies to GPS trackers that are marketed for their ability to spy on people without their knowledge and surveillance equipment like audio recorders, cameras, dash cams, nanny cams etc. Essentially any technology or device that is marketed for their spying prowess.

However, the company added that private investigation services and products or services used by parents to monitor their underage children will not be ‘banned’ for ads under this new policy.

Titled Enabling Dishonest Behavior, the new policy be enforced beginning August 11.

This policy and the update stems from a 2018 study conducted by researchers on the “ecosystem of intimate partner surveillance spyware”. The study found that there were thousands of Google ads that appeared when search terms related to explicit intention to spy were used.

According to reports, these ads included the likes of - How to catch a cheating spouse with this cell phone, Track My Wife’s Phone, Want to Spy on your Wife? Etc.

Google had started to restrict ads that appeared for these types of search terms, according to the study and ads were not being shown on “explicit search terms for intimate partner surveillance” when the study was published.

A Google spokesperson said in a statement that they routinely update their language with examples that help clarify what counts as a policy violation and that spyware technology for partner surveillance has always been against their policies concerning dishonest behaviour. Google added that it has now updated its policy further with new search words.