Google has corrected a “typo” in its Play Store “stacker” policy, which currently suggests that apps can be used to track spouses. Stalkerware and other tracking software are dangerous, campaign participants say, because they can facilitate domestic violence and harassment of partners. As it is written, the rules also wrongly say that parents cannot track their children.
The updated developer policy, which takes effect on October 1, now explicitly states that Play Store apps that allow parents to track their children are acceptable, but that they cannot be used to track adults (as a spouse). / spouse) without their knowledge or permission.
Here is the relevant section of the current developer policy that needs to be adjusted (emphasis added):
Legitimate forms of these applications I can not to be used by parents to track their children. These applications, however I can to be used to track a person (spouse, for example) without his or her 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 comes into force on October 1
Acceptable forms of these applications I can to be used by parents to track their children. These applications, however I can not to be used to track a person (spouse, for example) without his or her knowledge or permission, unless a permanent notification is displayed while the data is being transmitted.
Apart from a few other minor wording changes, the rest of Stalkerware’s policy seems more or less unchanged since August. Google policy states that applications may not mislead users as to their tracking functionality. Applications must “present users with a permanent notification and a unique icon that clearly identifies the application” and are not allowed to hide tracking behavior. They should also be explicitly designed and marketed as parental monitoring or business management applications, and not as a ‘spying or covert surveillance solution’. Google confirmed On the edge that this permanent tracking notification should be displayed even when the app is designed to allow parents to track their children.
The clarification of Google’s rules comes amid a broader campaign to crack down on a stalker. These apps, which are often marketed as a way for jealous or suspicious partners to follow another, and are designed to trick users into believing they are not being watched, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The coalition against Stalkerware, which the EFF helped create last year, says monitoring like this could facilitate “gender-based violence and domestic violence, harassment and sexual violence.”
As early as July, Google announced a ban on advertising spyware or surveillance technology with a new advertising policy that took effect on August 11, although TechCrunch report subsequently found advertisements for these applications after the ban took effect.
Along with yesterday’s print correction, Google has also updated its misrepresentation and gambling applications. It was clarified that “coordinated activity that misrepresents or obscures the origin of an application or content” is a violation of its policies and that a gambling application published by the government is already allowed in Brazil. These policies will take effect on October 21.