Tracking apps that allow you to track a partner’s comings and goings secretly are now formally prohibited from the Google Play Store.
Google has formally banned ‘stalkerware’. These are apps that secretly collect what someone is doing on his or her phone, from location to phone calls and messages. That information is then forwarded to another device.
The apps are often advertised to jealous or ‘concerned’ users to follow their partner online, or to keep an eye on children or employees. However, they are a massive invasion of privacy, especially since they can often run without the owner of the smartphone knowing about it.
Until recently, Google had no problems with this, and the Play Store had hundreds of applications in this genre in recent years.
However, an update to Google’s Developer Program Policy now states that apps that track users and send data to another device will only be allowed if they frequently notify that tracking is on. Tracking apps that are transparent about their operation, such as most corona apps, for example, are still allowed.
The stalkerware ban is effective October 1. From then on, the Play Store will no longer allow apps to run without the knowledge of the user of the device.
In July, security company Avast found a whole series of these stalkerware apps in the Play Store, which led to a ban on Google ads for these types of apps.
In the meantime, they will also be effectively banned. Most security programs classify stalkerware as malicious trackers and warn users who have the apps on their phones.