Google corrects unlucky ‘Stalkerware’ typo permitting partner-tracking apps


Google is correcting a “typo” in its Play Retailer “stalkerware” coverage that presently means that apps can be utilized to trace spouses. Stalkerware and different monitoring software program is harmful, campaigners say, as a result of it could facilitate home abuse and harassment of companions. Because it’s written, the coverage additionally mistakenly says dad and mom can’t observe their youngsters.

The updated developer policy, which comes into impact on October 1st, now explicitly says that Play Retailer apps which permit dad and mom to trace their youngsters are acceptable, however that they can’t be used to trace adults (like a partner) with out their data or permission.

Right here’s the relevant section from the current developer policy which is because of be corrected (emphasis added):

Legit types of these apps can’t be utilized by dad and mom to trace their youngsters. Nevertheless, these apps can be used to trace an individual (a partner, for instance) with out their data or permission until a persistent notification is displayed whereas the information is being transmitted.

Right here’s that same section in the new policy, which comes into impact on October 1st (once more, emphasis added). Google has modified the wording from “legitimate” to “acceptable,” however extra importantly it’s switched round which apps are allowed and that are forbidden.

Acceptable types of these apps can be utilized by dad and mom to trace their youngsters. Nevertheless, these apps can’t be used to trace an individual (a partner, for instance) with out their data or permission until a persistent notification is displayed whereas the information is being transmitted.

Exterior of a few different minor wording adjustments, the remainder of the Stalkerware coverage seems to be roughly unchanged from August. Google’s guidelines state that apps can’t mislead customers about their monitoring performance. Apps should “present users with a persistent notification and unique icon that clearly identifies the app” and so they’re not allowed to cover monitoring habits. In addition they should be explicitly designed and marketed as parental monitoring or enterprise administration apps, moderately than a “spying or secret surveillance solution.” Google has confirmed to The Verge that this persistent monitoring notification should be displayed, even when an app is designed to permit dad and mom to trace their youngsters.

Google’s rule clarification comes amidst a wider marketing campaign to crack down on stalkerware. These apps which are incessantly marketed as a method for jealous or suspicious companions to maintain tabs on one other, and are designed to trick customers into believing they’re not being monitored, in line with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The Coalition Against Stalkerware, which the EFF helped discovered final yr, says that surveillance like this will facilitate “gender-based and domestic violence, harassment and sexual abuse.”

Again in July, Google introduced a ban on promoting adware or surveillance know-how with a new ads policy which got here into pressure on August 11th, though a TechCrunch report subsequently discovered adverts for these apps after the ban got here into impact.

Alongside yesterday’s typo correction, Google additionally updated its policies around misrepresentation and gambling apps. It has clarified that “coordinated activity that misrepresents or conceals the origin of an app or content” is a violation of its insurance policies, and {that a} government-published playing app is now allowed in Brazil. These insurance policies will come into impact on October 21st.



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