A recent report reveals companies that offer Android stalkerware apps are still advertising on Google.
The tech giant, per Techcrunch, is still indexing these Android stalkerware apps. This means that their ads are still available on the platform. This is although Google has been working hard to eliminate these apps for years now.
In a bid to remove these apps on its platform, Google issued a permanent ban on them effective on Wednesday. However, despite the efforts of the tech giant, it appears that some are still able to slip through.
Android stalkerware apps
These stalkerware apps allow users to spy on their target essentially. While they are not spying tools, the majority of its target users are parents. These ads usually claim that parents can check on their child’s smartphones.
These apps allow parents to access their child’s apps, messages, and even calls. App developers usually market their products as protection against online predators. However, there is a growing concern that it essentially violates user privacy.
Over at Gizmodo, @swodinsky has a well researched & informative look at the reality of Google's "ban on #stalkerware advertizing", a ban that is based on secretive criteria & full of loopholes for stalkerware companies that rebrand as "child safety" apps: https://t.co/kEhhLqnVya
— 𝕮𝖎𝖆𝖓 (@nscrutables) August 11, 2020
Cybersecurity firms and tech giants are working hard to combat the proliferation of these stalkerware apps. Google is on the frontline of this battle since Android is the biggest target of these apps. One strategy the tech giant employs is to remove stalkerware apps on its platform.
Despite the efforts of the tech giant, some apps still manage to slip through the filter. In a statement, a Google spokesperson said:
“We recently updated our policies to prohibit ads promoting spyware for partner surveillance while still allowing ads for technology that helps parents monitor their underage children.”
A bigger fight
Google is not alone in its bid to rid its platform of these Android stalkerware apps. The antivirus company Malwarebytes said that it is joining the fight.
There is a bigger privacy concern at this point, especially when data collected by these apps are leaked. Last year, a security breach of the KidsGuard system exposed thousands of user data.
Authorities also show concern over some practice wherein these stalkerware apps are used to spy on spouses. Some app developers even flaunt this particular capability on their website.
To properly regulate these apps, the Electronic Frontier Foundation established the Coalition Against Stalkerware last year. The group is composed of non-profit organizations, various companies, and representatives from the academe.
Android stalkerware apps are just one of the many scourges that affect the mobile platform. There is also the constant threat of malware.
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