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Google announces a substantial reform of the Play Store policies

Google announces a substantial reform of the Play Store policies
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Google has announced a major ‘reform’ of the policies governing its app marketplace. This is a substantial change which, among other things, aims to combat disinformation and counteract some fraudulent practices that harm the interests of consumers.

The new Google Play Store policies will come into effect gradually, with different dates. The developers, however, will have until August 27 to take note of the new policies and adapt their apps to the regulation.

Not all policies have been welcomed by the specialized press. For example, a new policy will no longer allow VPNs designed to manipulate ads that impact app monetization. Potentially, the new policy could conflict with one of the services offered by DuckDuckGo.

The complete list of news, as listed by Google on its blog:

  • Effective September 30, 2022: We will add new ad policy guidelines to improve app user experience and to ban unexpected interstitials, based on Better Ads Standards guidelines for mobile app experiences.
  • Effective November 1, 2022: We will introduce new requirements for the declaration of FLAG_SECURE in the rules relating to the illegal use of devices and networks, to explain that all apps must comply with the declaration of FLAG_SECURE and must not facilitate or create alternative solutions to bypass FLAG_SECURE settings in other apps.
    We will introduce new requirements in the permissions policy to explain that all apps must have acceptable core functionality in order to use the VPNService class. We have also added some indications regarding the use of the VPNService class in the main requirements.
  • Effective July 31, 2023: We will introduce a new limited permission requirement for the Exact Alarm API to explain that apps only need to declare this permission if their core functionality requires an exact alarm. Apps that declare the new limited permission and don’t meet these criteria will not be allowed on Google Play. 

Policy updates:

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  • Effective August 31, 2022: We will update health disinformation guidelines to explain that apps containing misleading health information that contradict the current shared position in the medical industry or that can harm users are not allowed.
    We will update the identity theft policies to clarify that these policies prohibit the identity theft of other organizations or entities. We’ve also added some new examples of app titles and icons.
  • Effective September 30, 2022: We will update the subscription policy to explain that users need to be able to easily cancel their subscriptions from within the app.
  • Effective November 1, 2022: We will update our Family Self-Certified Announcements SDK Program to require SDK vendors for self-certified announcements to submit new self-certified and policy-compliant versions, as well as a test app, in order to stay in the program. Learn more about the SDKs for Self-Certified Family Announcements.
    We will update existing stalkerware recommendations with an “IsMonitoringTool” flag for all legitimate monitoring applications. In the Google Play Store description of all apps that use this tool it is also necessary to declare the tracking or tracking functionality.

For a complete overview of the new policies, we refer you to the official Google support site .

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