Google deletes two Android applications remotely

Jun 25, 2010 by Lin Edwards report

(PhysOrg.com) -- Google removed two free applications from Android phones this week, using a feature that allows them to delete the applications from phones remotely.

Google has not revealed the names of the but said they were applications built for research purposes by a security researcher. The researcher voluntarily removed the applications from Android Market, which led to decide to use their remote application removal feature to complete the cleanup by removing copies already installed on phones.

The applications were removed because they violated the Android Market terms and intentionally misrepresented their purpose to encourage user downloads. The applications posed no threat, there was no malicious intent in their design, and they had no permission to access private information.

Google said most users uninstalled the applications soon after they downloaded them because they were “practically useless”. The technologies required to remove installed applications from phones remotely were developed in case a malicious application did pose a threat, and provide what Google describes as a “powerful security advantage” to protect Android users. Users receive notification via their phone applications have been remotely removed.

According to a filing with the U.S. last year Google has removed around one percent of applications uploaded to the Android Market because of failure to comply with the terms and conditions. A Google spokesman said the company disclosed the most recent removals to highlight a security feature of the Android phones, and said it can and will rapidly disable malicious applications to protect users, and this capability has been described in the Market terms of service since the Android phone was launched.

Google also pointed out that users control whether or not applications have access to their because they must give permission before downloading the applications. Security is also maintained because developers must go through billing background checks to confirm their identities before they can upload applications to the Market.

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User comments : 5

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dirk_bruere
not rated yet Jun 25, 2010
Worrying - like Amazon deleting copies of an ebook people had downloaded.
YSLGuru
3.3 / 5 (3) Jun 25, 2010
This is being done to set a precendet that users, citizens, have no reasonable expectation of privacy or of ownership. Yes they have bought the Android phone but do they really own it if Google can connect in and purge apps from it and the user is helpess to stop them?
num3472
4.5 / 5 (4) Jun 25, 2010
In general, I like Google, but taking away user control like that is NOT COOL. The feature idea was and is a good idea, but it sounds like the implementation royally sucked, because it took the power away from the user.

One of the major appeals of the android is that it is perceived as open. This cuts into that, and does more harm to my desire to purchase one than threat of a virus/malware ever could.

What they should have done was for the androids with the app installed,

Disabled the app, then made a pop up, with a message about the app violating the terms of service, bla bla bla, told them of the level of risk, and saying "We strongly advise you remove this app. Would you like us to remove this app for you?" ok cancel
blazingspark
5 / 5 (2) Jun 26, 2010
In general, I like Google, but taking away user control like that is NOT COOL. The feature idea was and is a good idea, but it sounds like the implementation royally sucked, because it took the power away from the user.

One of the major appeals of the android is that it is perceived as open. This cuts into that, and does more harm to my desire to purchase one than threat of a virus/malware ever could.
I think this implementation is certainly better than any other I have seen out there. It only effects applications that are on the android market which are subject to terms of use. It is still possible for you to write your own software and install it on your phone and google would have no control over that. Stuff like that isn't possible with an Iphone where Steve Jobs controls what you can run on that platform.

If you write an application for the android market make sure you comply with the terms of service. simple. It's a good way of stopping people from abusing the system.
fleem
5 / 5 (4) Jun 26, 2010
Let the free market work. Read the terms. Boycott if you feel inclined. Personally I think this is a good idea on Google's part. Boycotting is always legal--except when applied to the monopoly we call the "Federal Government". Try to boycott the federal government because you think you aren't getting the services you were forced to pay for (at gun point), and you'll get thrown in jail. Boycotting is far more a democracy than picking one of two candidates placed before us by the system.

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