Published On: Fri, Apr 17th, 2020

New Google Play policies to cut down on ‘fleeceware,’ deepfakes, and nonessential plcae tracking

Google is now announcing a array of process changes directed during expelling strange apps from a Android app marketplace, a Google Play store. The changes are meant to give users some-more control over how their information is used, tie subscription policies and assistance forestall fake apps and media — including those involving deepfakes — from apropos accessible on a Google Play Store.

Background Location

The initial of these new policies is focused on a plcae tracking permissions requested by some apps.

Overuse of plcae tracking has been an area Google has struggled to rein in. In Android 10, users were means to shorten apps’ entrance to plcae while a app was in use, identical to what’s been accessible on iOS. With a entrance of Android 11, Google motionless to give users even some-more control with a new ability to extend a proxy “one-time” accede to supportive data, like location.

In February, Google pronounced it would also shortly need developers to get user accede before accessing credentials plcae data, after observant that many apps were seeking for nonessential user data. The association found that a series of these apps would have been means to yield a same knowledge to users if they usually accessed plcae while a app was in use — there was no advantage to regulating a app in a background.

Of course, there’s an advantage for developers who are collecting plcae data. This arrange of information can be sold to third-party by trackers that supply advertisers with minute information about a app’s users, earning a developer additional income.

The new change to Google Play policies now requires that developers get capitulation to entrance credentials plcae in their apps.

But Google is giving developers time to comply. It says no movement will be taken for new apps until Aug 2020 or on existent apps until Nov 2020.

“Fleeceware”

A second process is focused on subscription-based apps. Subscriptions have turn a sepulchral business industry-wide. They’re mostly a improved approach for apps to beget income as against to other monetization methods — like paid downloads, ads or in-app purchases.

However, many subscription apps are duping users into profitable by not creation it easy or apparent how to boot a subscription offer in sequence to use a giveaway tools of an app, or not being transparent about subscription terms or a length of giveaway trials, among other things.

The new Google Play process says developers will need to be pithy about their subscription terms, trials and offers, by revelation users a following:

  • Whether a subscription is compulsory to use all or tools of a app (and if not required, concede users to boot a offer easily).
  • The cost of a subscription.
  • The magnitude of a billing cycle.
  • Duration of giveaway trials and offers.
  • The pricing of rudimentary offers.
  • What is enclosed with a giveaway hearing or rudimentary offer.
  • When a giveaway hearing translates to a paid subscription.
  • How users can cancel if they do not wish to modify to a paid subscription

That means a “fine print” has to be enclosed on a offer’s page, and developers shouldn’t use disreputable tricks like lighter rise to censor a critical bits, either.

For example:

This change aims to residence a prevalent problem with “fleeceware” opposite a Google Play store. Multiple studies have shown subscription apps have gotten out of control. In fact, one investigate from Jan settled that over 600 million Android users had commissioned “fleeceware” apps from a Play Store. To be fair, a problem is not singular to Android. The iOS App Store was recently found to have an issue, too, with some-more than 3.5 million users carrying commissioned “fleeceware.” 

Developers have until Jun 16, 2020 to come into correspondence with this policy, Google says.

Deepfakes

The final refurbish has to do with a Play Store’s “Deceptive Behavior” policy.

This wasn’t minute in Google’s central announcements about a new policies, yet Google tells us it’s also rolling out updated manners around fake calm and apps.

Before, Google’s process was used to shorten apps that attempted to mistreat users — like apps claiming a functionally unfit task, those that lied in their inventory about their calm or facilities or those that mimicked a Android OS, among others.

The updated process is meant to improved safeguard all apps are transparent about their function once they’re downloaded. In particular, it’s meant to forestall any manipulated calm (aka “deepfakes”) from being accessible on a Play Store.

Google tells us this process change won’t impact apps that concede users to make deepfakes that are “for fun” — like those that concede users to barter their face onto GIFs, for example. These will tumble underneath an difference to a rule, that allows deepfakes that are “obvious joke or parody.”

However, it will take aim during apps that manipulate and change media in a approach that isn’t conventionally apparent or acceptable.

For example:

  • Apps adding a open figure to a proof during a politically supportive event.
  • Apps regulating open total or media from a supportive eventuality to publicize media altering capability within an app’s store listing.
  • Apps that change media clips to impersonate a news broadcast.

In particular, a process will concentration on apps that foster dubious imagery that could means mistreat associated to politics, amicable issues or supportive events. The apps contingency also divulge or watermark a altered media if it isn’t transparent a media has been altered.

Similar bans on manipulated media have been enacted opposite amicable media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and WeChat. Apple’s App Store Developer Guidelines don’t privately anxiety “deepfakes” by name, however, yet it bans apps with fake or insulting information, outward of joke and humor.

Google says a apps now accessible on Google Play have 30 days to approve with this change.

In Google’s announcement, a association pronounced it accepted these were formidable times for people, that is because it’s taken stairs to minimize a short-term impact of these changes. In other words, it doesn’t sound like a process changes will shortly outcome in any mass banning or large Play Store clean-out — rather, they’re meant to set a theatre for improved policing of a store in a future.

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