The Google Finance Spyware program collects user information about your transactions and can be used by Google to target ads against you, according to a recent blog post by the Google security team.
Google has long been known for its data collection, but in the past year it has come under fire from privacy advocates and lawmakers alike for the data it collects about people, including when it collects your email address, IP address and browsing history.
Privacy advocates have argued that Google’s spyware programs are overly broad and overly intrusive, saying they’re only used for targeted advertising.
Google security researchers have argued the spyware is not so much about targeting as it is about tracking and cataloging information about people.
The spyware, for example, is able to look at your IP address without your permission, and the spy software can be downloaded on the devices of people who are not signed into Gmail.
If the company does find information about you, Google will then use the information to contact you with targeted ads, according the blog post from Google security engineers.
The company has also been criticized for allowing the spy programs to be installed on devices without a user’s knowledge, which has been deemed an “invasive and harmful intrusion” into the privacy of its users.
Google security team explained the spy tools’ functions to Google users and users can turn them off by going to Settings > Privacy and Security > Google Privacy and you will see an option to turn them on.
The spyware can also be removed by turning it off.
Google has been criticized before for not fully disclosing how many spyware devices it has and said the number is “extremely small” because it is based on user feedback.
Google said the spy packages are “designed to allow the user to opt out of tracking, as well as to allow users to opt in to targeting of targeted ads.”
Google says it is working to remove the spy systems as soon as possible.
The company did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment.