Google pulls ‘stalkerware’ ads that promoted phone spying apps

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.”

TechCrunch found that several stalkerware apps used a variety of techniques to successfully evade Google’s ban on advertising apps for partner surveillance and were able to get Google ads approved.

Another stalkerware maker, ClevGuard, which in 2020 spilled the phone data on thousands of victims, ran Google ads that linked to a page on its website that said the app could be used on a spouse to “Dispel any doubts in a relationship.” The page was hidden from Google’s search index using a “Robots” file that tells search engines what should and shouldn’t appear in search results.

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