• Daniyar Kylyzhov

Google has banned "stalker apps" from the Play Store to track spouses

Google has updated the Play Store rules. The company has banned the distribution through its store of "stalker applications" designed to spy on other people.

Google defines "stalker software" as "an application that transmits personal information from a device without the notification or consent of the owner, and does not display continuous reminders that this is happening." From October 1, 2020, such applications will be banned from the Google Play store. It will not be possible to track the location of another adult without their consent. At the same time, the prohibition does not apply to software for "parental monitoring".

“The valid forms of these apps can be used by parents to track their children. However, these apps cannot be used to track a person (such as a spouse) without their knowledge or permission unless a persistent notification is displayed during data transfer. Only applications that comply with the policy, developed and sold exclusively for parental (including family) monitoring or enterprise management, may be distributed in the Play Store, ”the company said in a post.

From now on, developers have no right to position their application as a means of surveillance or secret surveillance; Apps should not hide the tracking or functionality from users. Apps should keep users informed of data transfers at all times and have a unique badge that clearly identifies the app. The updated policy also states that apps must not provide any third-party means to activate or access store-infringing features, such as a link to an APK hosted outside of Google Play.

The ban on hosting software follows a ban on advertising "stalker apps" that Google introduced in August. However, as Michael Welle, a professor at University College London, points out, outright banning of such software is ineffective, as "attackers often use dual-use applications — tools whose primary purpose is legitimate but can be easily repurposed to act as spyware."

Google's policy update also includes a ban on disinformation apps. These restrictions will take effect on October 21. Apps are now prohibited from impersonating any person or organization, or distorting or hiding information about the owners and developers. The ban will include applications that are used for disinformation campaigns, including applications or developer accounts that hide the country of origin and that send content to users in another country.

In addition, gambling apps will be banned from October 21, with the exception of the UK, France, Ireland, and Brazil.


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