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Google is now banning ‘stalkerware’ apps from the Play Store starting October 1st. However, the apps can still be offered if specified for use in tasks like tracking children or for enterprise use in some specific conditions.

Stalkerware apps give third parties the ability to track a user’s activity on consumer devices. They can track everything from location, reading or recording, and even control apps on the device. The apps are used to stalk a user. 

Google’s policy change said that the rules would apply to code that transmits information from a device without adequate notice or consent that the transmission is happening.

Clear intentions are the name of the game now

The policy excludes apps designed to exclusively be used in parental and family monitoring or management by enterprises. These can be put up on the Play Store with their tracking and reporting features.

However, it is not complete anarchy for these apps. Some rules include not hiding or cloaking their tracking behavior. They have to present users with persistent notifications and a unique icon that identifies the app. As for the ones used to track kids, specifications were not offered.

A step in the right direction for Google

The policy change also bans apps and developer accounts that misrepresent ownership or purpose to their users. This part will take effect on October 21st. The first two changes state that apps that impersonate anyone or any organization or hides who owns them and what the app is for will be banned from the Play Store.

If any of the apps engage in coordinated activities to mislead users, they will also be banned.

Christoph Hebeisen, a security intelligence expert, and director at Lookout Inc., a mobile phishing solutions company, believes that this is a step in the right direction for Google.