Mobile software

Google changes Android policy to tackle malicious apps

Warwick Ashford

Google has introduced stricter rules for applications on its Android mobile operating system to reduce the number of malicious apps in the Google Play app market and improve its reputation.

The revised Google Android developer policy includes new rules on app naming and a ban on apps that disclose personal information without permission.

Google has told developers that it will not tolerate advertisements that deceive consumers or use disruptive behaviour, such as obstructing access to apps and interfering with other ads.

In a letter to app developers, the Google Play team wrote: "We are constantly striving to make Google Play a great community for developers and consumers. This requires us to update our policies when we launch new features, like subscription billing, and also when we see unhealthy behaviour, like deceptive app names and spammy notifications."

The stricter controls on app names and icons have been introduced to eliminate copycat apps that attempt to trick users, according to the Telegraph.

Google's new policy says: "Don’t pretend to be someone else, and don’t represent that your app is authorised by or produced by another company or organisation if that is not the case."

Since its launch, the Google Play store has featured a significant number of malicious apps, or counterfeit versions of popular games such as Angry Birds.

Developers are warned that apps that introduce security vulnerabilities, spread malware, collect information without authorisation or "harm user devices" will not be permitted.

"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," the new rules state.

Google also set out new rules against apps that "spam" users by delivering repetitive content or which try to achieve better positions in the Google Play store by artificially boosting ratings.

All new apps or updates are subject to the revised policy, and developers have been given 30 days to ensure existing apps comply with the new rules.

"After this period, existing applications discovered to be in violation may be subject to warning or removal from Google Play," developers were told.


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