HUD: Google's New Ad Policies Will Improve Fair Housing Compliance

In June 2020, Google announced an update to its ad policy to prohibit employment, housing, and credit advertisers from targeting or excluding ads based on gender, age, parental status, marital status, or ZIP code.

Google says these changes will be on top of its longstanding policies that prohibit advertisers from targeting users based on sensitive categories such as race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, national origin, or disability. While the changing circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic and business continuity issues for many advertisers make precise timelines difficult, Google says it plans to roll out this update in the U.S. and Canada as soon as possible and, in any event, by the end of this year.

Google says that it’s been working closely with HUD on these changes for some time, and it appreciates the agency’s guidance to help it make progress on these important issues. As part of this effort, Google says it will provide housing advertisers with additional information about fair housing to help ensure they are acting in ways that support access to housing opportunities. Google says it will also continue to work with HUD, civil rights and housing experts, and the broader advertising industry to address concerns around discrimination in ad targeting.

In a statement, HUD acknowledged that it has worked with Google to improve Google’s online advertising policies to better align them with requirements of federal fair housing law, where applicable. “Advertising practices may continue to evolve but our Nation’s laws are unwavering,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “It is one of our key duties at HUD to enforce the Fair Housing Act and ensure that all Americans have housing choice. Improvements are underway in the online advertising space, and HUD encourages platforms, such as Google, to take these types of steps to eliminate unlawful discrimination in advertising and seek to ensure compliance with our Nation’s Fair Housing laws.”

HUD promises to continue to review online advertising platforms to ensure that people are not being denied housing opportunities advertised online because of their protected class. HUD encourages all platforms and advertisers—whether online or traditional—to ensure that their advertising policies and practices comply with the Fair Housing Act.