Google is correcting a “typo” in its Play Store “stalkerware” policy that currently suggests apps can be used to track spouses. Stellware and other tracking software is dangerous, campaigners say, because it can facilitate domestic abuse and harassment of partners. As it is written, the policy also erroneously states that parents cannot track their children.
The updated developer policy, which comes into effect on October 1, now explicitly states that Play Store apps that allow parents to track their children are acceptable, but they can be used by adults (like a spouse) Cannot be tracked without their knowledge or permission.
Here is the section related to the current developer policy which is due to be corrected (emphasis added):
Legit forms of these apps Can not Used by parents to track their children. However, this app can do Can be used to track an individual (spouse, for example) without their knowledge or permission unless a permanent notification is displayed while the data is being transmitted.
Here is the same section in the new policy, which applies on 1 October (again, emphasis added). Google has changed the words from “legitimate” to “acceptable”, but more importantly, it switches around which apps are allowed and which are prohibited.
Acceptable forms of these apps can do Used by parents to track their children. However, this app Can not Can be used to track an individual (spouse, for example) without their knowledge or permission unless a permanent notification is displayed while the data is being transmitted.
Outside of other minor word changes, the rest of the Stalkerware policy appears to be more or less unchanged since August. Google’s rules say that apps cannot confuse users about their tracking functionality. Apps must “present users with frequent notifications and specific icons that clearly identify the app” and are not allowed to hide tracking behavior. They have to be explicitly designed and marketed as a parent monitoring or enterprise management app, rather than as a “spy or secret surveillance solution”. Google has confirmed The ledge Even when designed to allow parents to track their children, this persistent tracking notification should be displayed.
Google’s rules become clear amid the widespread campaign to crack down on stockware. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), these apps are often marketed as jealous or suspicious partners to track others, and are designed to convince users that they are not being monitored is. The Coalition Against Stalkerware, which the EFF helped last year, says such surveillance could facilitate “gender-based and domestic violence, harassment and sexual exploitation”.
Back in July, Google announced a ban on advertising spyware or surveillance technology with a new advertising policy, which went into effect on August 11, although A. Techcrunch According to the report, advertisements for these apps were found after the ban was implemented.
Along with yesterday’s typo reform, Google also updated its policies around misinformation and gambling apps. It clarified that “coordinated activity that misrepresents or hides the origin of an app or content” is a violation of its policies, and that a government-published gambling app is now allowed in Brazil. These policies will come into effect on 21 October.