Google announces updates to Developer Program Policy

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Google Play Console

Google is making some changes to the Developer Program Policy. The other day, September 16, a special announcement was posted on the Play Console Help page about updates on several policies on Stalkerware, Misrepresentation, and Gambling Apps. It is a rather long list. If you are a developer of those kinds of apps, you may want to check out the post. Don’t worry, Google is allowing a grace period of at least 15 days from September 16 for new and existing mobile apps. Compliance is requested by Google.

Effective October 1, 2020, Stalkerware apps must be updated to “NOT present themselves as a spying or secret surveillance solution” and “NOT hide or cloak tracking behavior or attempt to mislead users about such functionality”. Such apps “must present users with a persistent notification and unique icon that clearly identifies the app”. Listings of these stalkerware apps must also not provide means to access or activate functionality that may violate these terms. It includes linking to any non-compliant APK hosted outside Google Play.

By October 21, 2020, gambling apps MUST prevent under-age users from gambling in the app, prevent use from countries not covered by the developer-provided gambling license, and must NOT be purchasable as a paid app on Google Play. The gambling apps must be rated AO (Adult Only) or IARC equivalent and must be free to download and install from the Store. The listing must clearly display information about responsible gambling.

Also, effective October 21, 2020, as posted on the Play Console Help, the Google Play team will not allow mobile apps or developer accounts that do the following:

• coordinate with other apps, sites, developers, or other accounts to conceal or misrepresent developer or app identity or other material details, where app content relates to politics, social issues or matters of public concern.
• impersonate any person or organization, or that misrepresent or conceal their ownership or primary purpose.
• that engage in coordinated activity to mislead users. This includes, but isn’t limited to, apps or developer accounts that misrepresent or conceal their country of origin and that direct content at users in another country.

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