Google has pulled several “stalkerware” ads that violated its policies by promoting apps that encouraged prospective users to spy on their spouses’ phone.
These consumer-grade spyware apps are often marketed to parents wishing to monitor their child’s calls, messages, apps, photos and location, often under the guise of protecting against predators. But these apps, which are often designed to be installed surreptitiously and without the device owner’s consent, have been repurposed by abusers to spy on the phones of their spouses.
The rise in the use of so-called “stalkerware” (or spouseware) prompted an industrywide response in recent years to combat the spread of phone monitoring apps. Antivirus makers have worked to better detect stalkerware, and federal authorities are taking action against spyware makers that further expose their victims to security threats. Last August, Google banned ads in users’ search results that promoted apps that are designed “with the express purpose of tracking or monitoring another person or their activities without their authorization.”
But TechCrunch found five app makers were still advertising their stalkerware apps as recently as last week.
“We do not allow ads promoting spyware for partner surveillance. We immediately removed the ads that violated this policy and will continue to track emerging behaviors to prevent bad actors from trying to evade our detection systems,” a Google spokesperson told…