Google Exercises Its Remote Application Removal Privileges on Two Android Apps
Article by George Norman
On 25 Jun 2010
If an Android application violates Google’s Android Market Developer Distribution Agreement or Google’s Content Policy, then that application is kicked out of the Android Market. Makes sense to remove such an application from the Android Market. But what if some user got to install the app before it was removed from the Android Market?

Well, in that case, Google will remove it for the user – remotely. That is precisely what happened earlier this week. Google announced that it uncovered two apps that “intentionally misrepresented their purpose in order to encourage user downloads.” The applications, developed by a security researcher, were not malicious or anything. As a matter of fact they were pretty much useless.

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Because the apps “intentionally misrepresented their purpose in order to encourage user downloads”, Google asked the security researcher to take them down, who did so voluntarily. The apps were gone from the Android Market, but not from the devices of the users that downloaded and installed the apps. So what did Google do? It remotely removed the apps.

“After the researcher voluntarily removed these applications from Android Market, we decided, per the Android Market Terms of Service, to exercise our remote application removal feature on the remaining installed copies to complete the cleanup. The remote application removal feature is one of many security controls Android possesses to help protect users from malicious applications. In case of an emergency, a dangerous application could be removed from active circulation in a rapid and scalable manner to prevent further exposure to users. While we hope to not have to use it, we know that we have the capability to take swift action on behalf of users’ safety when needed,” explained Rich Cannings, Android Security Lead.

Here’s what it says in the Android Market Terms of Service:

“2.4 From time to time, Google may discover a Product on the Market that violates the Android Market Developer Distribution Agreement or other legal agreements, laws, regulations or policies. You agree that in such an instance Google retains the right to remotely remove those applications from your Device at its sole discretion and without notice to you.”

So, let me ask you this. Did you bother to read the terms of service? Did you know that Google could remotely remove an app from your Android-powered device?



Tags: Google, Android, Android Market
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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Google Exercises Its Remote Application Removal Privileges on Two Android Apps
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