Usually, no one enjoys going to the DMV to renew their driver’s license, waiting at City Hall to apply for a permit, or heading to the airport to apply for TSA Precheck. And as the general public embraces technology faster than the government, it’s no surprise that more people have been turning to Google and online services to help take this errand off their plate.
Many companies are happy to manage these applications for government documents on behalf of their customers and may even advertise their services on Google. However, Google announced that starting May 26, 2020, Google will no longer allow ads for documents and/or services that can be obtained directly from a government or a delegated provider.
Included in this new policy, Google announced it would not allow ads promoting the acquisition, renewal, replacement, or retrieval of government documents, including:
Additionally, Google’s new policy prohibits ads for services in assisting people to:
Non-egregious violations of this policy may cause their ads to be disapproved. Repeated violations will lead in account suspension.
Many of these companies acted as middlemen between the government and the public and many found the opportunity to make a profit off confusing government processes to get these documents and services. Google had hoped to prevent advertisers from abusing this by prohibiting the sale of free items.
However, if a service can promise (or say they promise) faster turnaround time than the government, or handle audits, or shipping—is that the same service as the government’s? What if the government changes $110 for a new passport—can this policy on free items prevent an advertiser for charging $250 for processing the application? Many of these advertisers lived in an uncomfortable gray area and would often ruffle feathers with Google policies. This new policy removes much of the previously gray area, even if it’s more restrictive than Google’s earlier approach.
Professional services and consultants that help people qualify for these services will not experience any changes, including:
The goal of Google’s new ad policy is to prevent advertisers from charging for documents or services that a searcher could readily get directly from the government, not impact services like these.
Update (4/22/20): Microsoft also recently announced it would prohibit ads for these government services, effective May 6.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.