Google’s new rules clamp down on discriminatory housing, job ads

A sign is pictured outs a Google office near the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California, on May 8, 2019. (REUTERS/Dave Paresh/File Photo)
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Updated 12 June 2020

Google’s new rules clamp down on discriminatory housing, job ads

  • Google and Facebook together account for just over half of Internet ad sales globally
  • Google had previously barred advertisers from choosing ad targets based on users’ race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation

OAKLAND, California: Alphabet Inc’s Google said on Thursday it was tackling unlawful discrimination by barring housing, employment and credit ads from being targeted to its users based on their postal code, gender, age, parental status or marital status.
The new policy, which will take effect by the end of the year in the United States and Canada, comes more than a year after the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) charged Facebook Inc. for selling discriminatory housing ads and said it was looking into similar concerns about Google and Twitter Inc.
Google and Facebook together account for just over half of Internet ad sales globally, making their policy actions influential in the industry.
US protests following the death of George Floyd, an African American man who died in police custody in Minneapolis, have placed a spotlight on racial inequities, including the challenges black people face in finding jobs and housing. But Google said its new policy was not a reaction to the protests.
“We had been working constructively with HUD on these issues since last year, and our timeline has not been driven by current events,” Google spokesperson Elijah Lawal said.
In a press release on Thursday, HUD encouraged other online ad sellers to follow Google’s action. Twitter said it had no policy updates to share.
Google had previously barred advertisers from choosing ad targets based on users’ race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation. But researchers investigating discrimination have said advertisers could still use other data to exclude lower-income individuals and racial minorities from their potential customer pool.
For example, ZIP codes, which refer to geography, could be a proxy for race as people of similar background sometimes cluster in neighborhoods.
Facebook banned advertisers from using ZIP codes, age and gender to decide who would see ads days before HUD took action last year. The company and US prosecutors said the case, which was referred to a federal court in New York, is ongoing.

 


UK says TikTok locating HQ in London would be a commercial decision

Updated 4 min 3 sec ago

UK says TikTok locating HQ in London would be a commercial decision

LONDON: Britain said the location of TikTok’s headquarters was a commercial decision after a newspaper report said the government had given the green light for its Chinese parent company to set up a head office in London for the popular short-video app.
The report in the Sun said the founders of China’s ByteDance would soon announce their intention to set up shop for TikTok in the British capital, where it would join other tech majors such as Google and Facebook who have a strong presence there.
A spokesman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “It would be a commercial decision, and I’m not aware that one has been taken.” TikTok declined to comment.
Any move by ByteDance comes at a fraught time in relations between China and the West, exemplified by the battle over use in 5G telecom networks of kit made by China’s Huawei.
Britain had been trying to walk a tightrope over Huawei until it sided with Washington last month by banning the company from its 5G networks from 2027.
TikTok, whose stars such as Zachary King and Charli D’Amelio have gained worldwide popularity for their brief video performances, has also been in the firing line of US President Donald Trump over supposed security concerns.
Trump however reversed course on a plan to ban the app after Microsoft Corp. emerged as a possible buyer of TikTok’s US operations and he gave the two firms 45 days to come up with a deal.
London has also clashed with Beijing over the imposition of a new security law in Hong Kong but Johnson has said he is a Sinophile, and the British government would welcome another large tech investment in Britain particularly as the Coronavirus crisis sends the economy into a deep recession and possible trade disruptions loom over Brexit.