Google Lays Down The Law, Forbids Android Apps From Using Deceptive Ads And Other Shenanigans

As much as we like Android -- and we like it quite a bit around these parts -- there's no denying that Google could step up its game and more actively police its app store (Google Play) for malicious or otherwise deceptive content. Taking a step in that direction, Google made some changes and additions to its Google Play Developer Program Policy.

Most of the changes are outlined in a new section called "App Promotion" and deal with deceptive behavior. Google isn't necessarily pointing the fingers at any developers here, though it is making things clear that app developers are responsible for doing their due diligence when selecting an ad network or affiliate to work with.

Google Play

The new rules in place say that apps published on Google Play may not directly or indirectly engage in or benefit from any of the following:

  • Promotion via deceptive ads on websites, apps, or other properties, including simulated system, service, or app notifications or alerts.
  • Promotion or install tactics which cause redirection to Google Play or the download of the app without informed user action.
  • Unsolicited promotion via SMS services.

Google further states that app developers are the ones responsible that their chosen ad networks or affiliates abide by these terms. What Google's trying to do here is prevent developers from tricking users into downloading apps by spoofing a system dialog box.

In a bid to make apps safer and crack down on malicious apps, Google's third bullet point above means that apps must have a user's permission to tap into SMS services. Some shady developers use SMS to promote their app by spamming the user's contacts, while others use it to drive up charges on a user's account.