Google on Monday announced it is has had enough of downloadable software taking advantage of its advertising ecosystem. As such, the company is once again hardening its rules to prevent abuse, after noting that it found 17 percent fewer bad actors in 2012 than in the previous year thanks to increased enforcement and tightened policies.

On the other hand, Google says in the last 90 days it has seen over 100,000 complaints about software that changed users’ browser settings or about toolbars that they couldn’t uninstall. The company is fighting back.

These aren’t small requirements either. Google has updated its advertising policies and enforcement stating that software accessing its services must:

  • Be pre-approved by Google.
  • Offer one-click, complete uninstall.
  • Provide clear, full disclosure and transparency to people about what is being installed and what changes are being made to their devices.
  • Install itself on only one browser per download.
  • Be bundled with and distributed by only reputable parties who comply with our policies.

Google says it has seen increased reports about all types of annoying software. If you’re the tech guru in your family, you’ve definitely seen software that: unexpectedly changes the default browser, search engine, or homepage; clutters up the browser and screen or interferes with the web browsing experience (such as by inserting ads); makes it very difficult to remove downloaded software or restore defaults; loads additional unwanted software applications; accesses personal information; and/or infects your machine with malware.

In other words, Google is looking to help both advertisers and users with this initiative, while also protecting its bottom line. That’s something few people can complain about.

These policy changes can’t stop software like this from existing, but they can help the overall situation. Google has enough weight to throw around that although it can’t stop the river from flowing, it can certainly slow it to a trickle.

Top Image credit: asabird