Google is facing a serious issue with privacy and malicious apps on the Google Play store for Android users. The company recently kicked 85 apps that were malware-laden off the Play Store, and has now announced that the removal process for any apps that ask for SMS or Call Log permissions is beginning for developers who fail to follow specific steps.
The policy change was announced last year, and Google has reportedly been reminding devs of the change. Removals for violation of the policy will begin in the next few weeks. Android users who have been using an alternative dialer or messaging app could be impacted. The reason for the policy change is that call and SMS log permissions have been abused in the past.
Strict rules on what permissions an app can ask for is a move to improve user privacy and protect user data according to Google. Google does give developers with apps that need these permissions for legitimate reasons a declarations form they can submit that explains why the app needs SMS or call log permissions. Any developer that fails to complete this step will see their app removed from the Play Store with no exceptions.
Google notes that it announced the coming change back in October and gave developers of apps asking for those permissions 90 days to remove the permissions or submit the permissions declaration form. Google says that the policy is meant to ensure that apps asking for the permissions need full and ongoing access to that sensitive data to accomplish the app's primary use. Google also wants full disclosure so the user can understand why the app is asking for the permissions. Google has to do something to clean up the Google Play store and protect users from apps that invade privacy and pose harm to users, and this is a promising start.