Developer Program Policy: September 16, 2020 announcement

We're updating the following policies. All new and existing apps will receive a grace period of at least 15 days from the September 16, 2020 issuance of this notification (unless otherwise stated) to comply with the following changes:

Stalkerware - effective October 1, 2020

Code that collects and/or transmits personal or sensitive user data from a device without adequate notice or consent and doesn't display a persistent notification that this is happening.

Stalkerware apps target device users by monitoring personal or sensitive user data, and transmitting or making this data accessible to third parties. 

Apps exclusively designed and marketed for parents to track their children or enterprise management, provided they fully comply with the requirements described below are the only acceptable surveillance apps. These apps cannot be used to track anyone else (a spouse, for example) even with their knowledge and permission, regardless if persistent notification is displayed.

Non-stalkerware apps distributed on the Play Store which monitor or track a user's behavior on a device must minimally comply with these requirements:

  • Apps must not present themselves as a spying or secret surveillance solution.
  • Apps must not hide or cloak tracking behavior or attempt to mislead users about such functionality.
  • Apps must present users with a persistent notification at all times when the app is running and a unique icon that clearly identifies the app.
  • Apps and app listings on Google Play must not provide any means to activate or access functionality that violate these terms, such as linking to a non-compliant APK hosted outside Google Play.
  • You are solely responsible for determining the legality of your app in its targeted locale. Apps determined to be unlawful in locations where they are published will be removed.

Misrepresentation - effective October 21, 2020

We do not allow apps or developer accounts that:

  • impersonate any person or organization, or that misrepresent or conceal their ownership or primary purpose. 
  • that engage in coordinated activity to mislead users. This includes, but isn’t limited to, apps or developer accounts that misrepresent or conceal their country of origin and that direct content at users in another country.
  • coordinate with other apps, sites, developers, or other accounts to conceal or misrepresent developer or app identity or other material details, where app content relates to politics, social issues or matters of public concern.

Gambling Apps - effective October 21, 2020

We only allow content and services that facilitate online gambling in: 

  • the UK, Ireland, and France
  • Brazil (limited to approved apps published by Caixa Economica Federal)

These apps must meet the following requirements: 

  • Developer must successfully complete the application process in order to distribute the app on Play;
  • App must comply with all applicable laws and industry standards for each country in which it is distributed;
  • Developer must have a valid gambling license for each country in which the app is distributed;
  • App must prevent under-age users from gambling in the app;
  • App must prevent use from countries not covered by the developer-provided gambling license;
  • App must NOT be purchasable as a paid app on Google Play, nor use Google Play In-app Billing;
  • App must be free to download and install from the Store;
  • App must be rated AO (Adult Only) or IARC equivalent; and
  • App and its app listing must clearly display information about responsible gambling.

For all other locations, we don't allow content or services that facilitate online gambling, including, but not limited to, online casinos, sports betting and lotteries, and games of skill that offer prizes of cash or other real world value.

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