Apps

Google blocked 1.2 million privacy-violating apps from the Play Store last year

In 2021, the search engine giant blocked 1.2 million policy violating apps from being published on Google Play, preventing billions of harmful installations.

Published:Thu, April 28, 2022 10:57am

By Md Waquar Haider

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Google in its latest blog post announced that it introduced multiple privacy-focused features last year with an aim to enhance protection against malicious apps. In 2021, the search engine giant blocked 1.2 million policy violating apps from being published on Google Play, preventing billions of harmful installations.

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Google's efforts to combat malicious and spammy developers have also resulted in over 190,000 accounts being banned in 2021. In addition, the company closed around 500k developer accounts that are inactive or abandoned.

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In May, Google announced its new Data safety section for Google Play where developers will be required to give users deeper insight into the privacy and security practices of the apps they download, and provide transparency into the data the app may collect and why. The Data safety section launched this week, and developers are required to complete this section for their apps by July 20th.

"We have also invested in making life easier for our developers. We added the Policy and Programs section to Google Play Console to help developers manage all their app compliance issues in one central location. This includes the ability to appeal a decision and track its status from this page," Steve Kafka and Khawaja Shams from the Android Security and Privacy team said in a statement.

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Google also partnered with SDK developers to improve app safety, limit how data is shared, and improve lines of communication with app developers.

In addition, the company introduced new platform protections and policies that reduced access to sensitive APIs and user data for 98% of apps migrating to Android 11 or higher. It has also disallowed the use of Accessibility APIs in apps migrating to Android 12, killing third-party call recording apps in the process.

For Google Pixel users, the company introduced an additional set of features, like the Security hub. "Our new Security hub helps protect your phone, apps, Google Account, and passwords by giving you a central view of your device's current configuration. Security hub also provides recommendations to improve your security, helping you decide what settings best meet your needs," the company noted.

In addition, Pixels now use new machine learning models that improve the detection of malware in Google Play Protect. The detection runs on your Pixel, and uses a privacy preserving technology called federated analytics to discover bad apps.

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