​Google bans ads for cryptocurrencies, wallets, and exchanges on its platforms

The move was announced in a blog post detailing some updates to Google's advertising network to make it a tool "that works for everyone."

How cryptocurrency powers cybercrime
Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Google has banned advertisements for cryptocurrencies and related content including coin offerings, exchanges, wallets, and trading advice.
  • The cryptocurrency ad ban will come into effect on Google platforms this June.

Google's Sustainable Ads director Scott Spencer recently announced in a blog post that the company will not allow advertisements for cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Monero on its advertising platform. The same announcement also prohibits advertisements for binary options, a type of option where the potential payoff is either a fixed amount or nothing, which have been banned outright by regulators in various countries.

The blog post states, in part:

Digital advertising plays an important role in making the web what it is today--a forum where anyone with a good idea and good content can reach an audience and potentially make a living. In order for this ads-supported, free web to work, it needs to be a safe and effective place to learn, create and advertise. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. Whether it's a one-off accident or a coordinated action by scammers trying to make money, a negative experience hurts the entire ecosystem.

The bans will go into effect this June.

This sent Bitcoin exchange rates back under $8,000 USD, which is a two week low, as well as knocking $100 off the value of Ethereum, putting it at a one-month low at $612 USD. The last event that sent the cryptocurrency market plummeting that far was an announcement by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) following their subpoena of companies operating initial coin offerings (ICOs), as the regulator seeks to increase their control of the cryptocurrency market. This increased scrutiny came after LoopX had operated an ICO exit scam, running off with $4.5 million of investment money.

SEE: IT leader's guide to the blockchain (Tech Pro Research)

Google had also banned similarly risky financial products in ads for affiliates and aggregators, including contracts for difference, rolling spot forex, and financial spread betting. Advertisers offering these products will be required to undergo certification by Google, which the company notes is not possible in all countries. The companies will need to provide proof of certification from appropriate financial regulators.

Cryptocurrencies have continued to attract hackers attempting to make money quickly. A recent investigation indicated that nearly 50,000 websites were infected with JavaScript-based mining malware. Similar attacks targeting Android devices, Microsoft Word documents, and Telegram were discovered last month, and criminals have also recycled the EternalBlue vulnerability developed by the NSA to create the mining botnet "Smominru." Similarly, the ComboJack malware finds and replaces instances of wallet IDs on the clipboard, prompting the user to accidentally send money to the wrong wallet in the hopes they would not check to ensure the copied wallet ID is identical to the pasted wallet ID.

Proponents of cryptocurrencies continue to insist on the potential of the concept. NodeSource founder and CEO Joe McCann--a former Wall Street trader-- noted that "Google's ban on cryptocurrency-related advertising is only more validation for this new asset class. Governments and now media outlets are attempting to 'protect' the public from this burgeoning asset class when... stopping the flow of information via advertising is analogous to putting a band-aid on a crack in a dam."

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Image: iStockphoto/BeeBright