Google Cracks Down on Phony Android Apps

When it comes to using new technologies there are two kinds of people: those who use these technologies for their intended purpose and those who don’t. It seems that everyone is trying to build the next great app that will get 1 million downloads. Unfortunately, there are people who create deceptive apps that have a similar function or name to a popular app but instead attempt to highjack your information.

Google notified its developer community that Google Play will beef up its policy to crack down on these sketchy apps in the Android Market. They have updated the developer program policy page to allow users to navigate more easily and make it more secure. Google also outlined the kinds of apps they won’t allow on the platform. Apps that disclose personal information such as phone numbers, social-security numbers, or credit card numbers without authorization are not allowed.

This also goes for spin-off apps that use name or icons similar to existing apps. The new policy will help cut out the “free” versions that may just be pirated apps or services.

Don’t pretend to be someone else, and don’t represent that your app is authorized by or produced by another company or organization if that is not the case,” Google said on its policy page. “Products or the ads they contain also must not mimic functionality or warnings from the operating system or other applications.”

The policy will include instructions that developers shouldn’t post repetitive content, the product descriptions shouldn’t be misleading, or loaded with keywords to boost its relevancy in the store’s search results. If you search on the Google Play store right now, you’ll find a lot of spam like apps for Twitter, Instagram, or popular games.
Google said sending SMS, email, or other messages on behalf of the user without their approval is forbidden.

Here are some of the items outlined in the “Content Policies”

– Sexually Explicit Material: They allow no nudity, graphic sex acts, or sexually explicit material.
– Violence and Bullying: Depictions of gratuitous violence are not allowed. Applications should not contain materials that threaten, harass or bully other users.
– Hate Speech: We don’t allow the promotion of hatred toward groups of people based on their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, or sexual orientation/gender identity.
– Impersonation or Deceptive Behavior: Don’t pretend to be someone else or organization, if that is not the case.
– Personal and Confidential Information: Do not share users personal or confidential information
– Intellectual Property: Don’t infringe on the intellectual property rights of others, (including patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright, and other proprietary rights), or encourage or induce infringement of intellectual property rights. We will respond to clear notices of alleged copyright infringement. For more information or to file a DMCA request, please visit our copyright procedures.
– Illegal Activities: Keep it legal. Don’t engage in unlawful activities on this product.
– Gambling: We don’t allow content or services that facilitate online gambling, including but not limited to, online casinos, sports betting and lotteries.
– Dangerous Products: Don’t transmit viruses, worms, defects, Trojan horses, malware, or any other items that may introduce security vulnerabilities to or harm user devices, applications, or personal data. We don’t allow content that harms, interferes with the operation of, or accesses in an unauthorized manner, networks, servers, or other infrastructure. Apps that collect information (such as the user’s location or behavior) without the user’s knowledge (spyware), malicious scripts and password phishing scams are also prohibited on Google Play, as are applications that cause users to unknowingly download or install applications from sources outside of Google Play.

We are constantly striving to make Google Play a great community for developers and consumers,” Google said in the email. “This requires us to update our policies when we launch new features, like subscription billing, and also when we see unhealthy behavior, like deceptive app names and spammy notifications.”

If a developer violates these rules they could get themselves and their apps kicked out of Google Play for good. In short, Android app developers are starting to hear the same rules that iOS (Apple) developers have worked with for years.


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Eric Wagner

Eric is a CEO with a background in marketing and search engine optimization specialist (SEO). In his free time, Eric enjoys exercise, gardening, technology, a good book, and spending time with family and friends.

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