Google has reportedly posted several ads for “stalkerware” apps that allow users to spy on their spouse’s phone.
The search giant has already banned advertising programs designed to track spouses – which critics say would disrupt privacy and lead to domestic violence, but five companies posted ads for stalkerware via Google last week. reports TechCrunch.
The technology giant said it immediately banned ads after the point of sale asked Google for comment. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Post.
Stalkerware apps – which allow customers to secretly track other users ’location, read their texts and track their calls, including other invasive features – occupy a gray area in Google’s advertising rules.
Google prohibits advertising programs used for “close monitoring of partners,” but allows companies to advertise stalkerware programs if they are “intended for parents to monitor or track their minor children” or for “personal investigation services”.
Because private investigation services are sometimes used to deceive romantic partners, it is not clear where Google is when it comes to deciding whether or not to ban advertising. The company did not respond to questions from The Post or TechCrunch on the matter.
According to TechCrunch, a stalkerware company called mSpy has placed a Google ad that promises to allow customers to spy on “your kids, husband or wife, grandparents”.
Another app, called ClevGuard, promised to “dispel suspicions in the relationship.”
A third company, PhoneSpector, said its product “catches a scammer.”
Stalkerware apps are common on Android devices, but they can also be installed on iPhones and iPads, experts say.