June 25, 2010 report
Google deletes two Android applications remotely
(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 applications but said they were applications built for research purposes by a security researcher. The researcher voluntarily removed the applications from Android Market, which led Google 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. Federal Communications Commission 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 personal data 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 Android Market.
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