Policy updates and clarifications
- We're updating the All Files Access Permission policy for apps that target Android 11+ and need to access external storage so that users have more access control over their device storage.
- We're adding regional updates for Real-Money Gambling countries, and are adding clarifications to the Gamified Loyalty program policy requirements.
- We’re updating the Sexual Content and Profanity policy with additional examples of prohibited apps.
Additionally, we’ve added new clarifications and examples to some of our policies. Please note that these aren’t new policies and we aren’t changing our enforcement standards and practices as a result of these updates.
- We’re updating the Families Policy Requirements with additional clarity on app functionality.
- We’re clarifying the News policy as it relates to user-generated content apps, contact information, and use of advertising.
- We’re reiterating our definition of Malware and clarifying the definition of stalkerware.
- We’ve clarified an example of common violations in the Misleading Claims policy.
- We’ve added a Help Center link to our Payments policy that contains additional information about Google Play’s billing system and answers to frequently asked questions about the Payments policy.
- We’ve clarified the Personal and Sensitive Information policy.
- We've clarified requirements for COVID-19 status apps.
- We’ve added an example of a common ads violation to the Families Ads and Monetization policy.
Upcoming new policy
- The new Package Visibility policy introduces an approval process for the new QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES permission which controls access to the inventory of installed apps on a device. Developers will have 60 days to comply with changes.
We’re updating our Real-Money Gambling, Games, and Contests policy so more developers around the world can build sustainable businesses, and in a way that helps keep consumers safe. Here's a summary of all the changes:
- We’re expanding the number of countries in which developers can publish licensed real money gambling apps to include: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and the United States (in addition to the existing permitted countries: Brazil, Ireland, France, and the United Kingdom).
- We’re introducing new requirements for gamified loyalty programs.
- We’re also updating various portions of the policy with additional examples to provide further clarification.
- We’re adding information regarding the acceptable use of SMS and Call log data for business CRM apps and default handlers. If you want to make changes to your apps in accordance with these revised guidelines, you can do so starting today. [Current policy | Upcoming policy - effective December 16, 2020]
- We’re updating our Policy Coverage section with additional clarity on apps that may pose a high risk of abuse. [Current policy | Upcoming policy - effective December 16, 2020]
- We're updating our User Data policy to align with changes to the Google Play Developer Distribution Agreement to reflect our reliance on standard contractual clauses to transfer personal data from the European Economic Area or the UK to the U.S. as of July 2020. [Current policy | Upcoming policy - effective December 16, 2020]
- We’ve added new examples to our News policy.
- We’ve updated the Mobile Unwanted Software policy by renaming Impersonation to Social Engineering.
- We’ve added a new example to our Sensitive Events policy regarding COVID-19.
- We’ve added new examples of common violations to our Spam and Minimum Functionality policies.
As a reminder, if your app accesses location in the background, you can now submit your app for feedback by completing the Location permissions declaration form in the Play Console.
September 28, 2020:
We’re updating our Payments policy to clarify when Google Play’s billing system should be used for in-app purchases. This clarification is important to increase user protections across Play-distributed apps and makes the policy easier to understand.
Any existing app that is currently using an alternative billing system will need to remove it to comply with this update. For those apps, we are offering an extended grace period until September 30, 2021 to make any required changes. New apps submitted after January 20, 2021 will need to be in compliance. To view additional information about this update, please visit our Help Center.
September 16, 2020:
- Effective Date: October 21, 2020. We’re updating our Misrepresentation policy to clarify that developers and apps taking part in coordinated activity that misrepresents or conceals the origin of an app or content are a violation of Google Play policy.
- Effective Date: October 21, 2020. We’re updating our Gambling Apps policy to allow a government-published real money gambling app in Brazil.
In addition, we’re correcting a typo in our Stalkerware policy. All apps will have until October 1, 2020 to comply with this correction.
July 8, 2020:
We’ve introduced new policies and policy updates that need your attention. All new and existing apps will receive a grace period of at least 30 days from the issuance of this notification (unless otherwise stated) to comply with these changes. Here’s a summary of all the changes:
- We've introduced new requirements for apps requesting broad access to device storage, including an appropriate access and declaration review process for R-targeted apps.
- We’ve launched a News policy to highlight requirements for News Apps published on Google Play. Visit the help center for more detailed information on this policy and future developer requirements.
- We’ve updated our User-generated Content (UGC) policy to require in-app reporting of AR anchoring on sensitive locations.
- We’ve updated our Families Ads and Monetization policy to clarify prohibited spammy and manipulative ads and monetization practices.
We’ve also updated several policies (including Inappropriate Content, Gambling, Mobile Unwanted Software, and Ad Fraud including impression fraud) with clearer language and additional examples. Please note that these aren’t new policies and we aren’t changing our enforcement standards and practices as a result of these updates. You can review these changes here. We encourage you to review these policy updates carefully in case any of your apps are impacted.
Enforcement timelines Any new apps or app updates published after April 16, 2020 will immediately be subject to the latest version of the Developer Program Policies. Apps available on Google Play as of April 16, 2020 will have 30 days from this date to come into compliance to prevent removal, unless otherwise noted.
Various updates as outlined below:
- We've updated our Deceptive Behavior policies to emphasize functionally deceptive apps and our requirement to provide accurate disclosures and metadata.
- We've updated our Malicious Behavior policies to introduce a user notification requirement prior to apps beginning large resource file downloads.
- We've introduced a Manipulated Media policy for apps that spread or created altered media.
- We've updated our Malware policy. Visit the Google Play Protect site for additional information about enforcement and reporting malware.
- We've updated our Subscriptions policy to ensure transparent communication of subscription offers and responsible implementation of monetization tools and services.
- Any new apps or app updates published after this notification will immediately be subject to the latest version of the Developer Program Policies. Apps currently on Google Play will have 60 days to come into compliance
- We've rebranded the Ad Network Certification program to Families Ads Program.
- We've updated our Families policy to include disclosure of collection of personal and sensitive information from children.
- We've updated our Families policy to provide further clarification on Bluetooth use.
- We've updated our Families Ads and Monetization policy to prohibit spammy and manipulative ads and monetization practices.
- We've updated our Location policy to promote transparency and limit access to location data especially in the background.
- Because compliance with this Location policy may require substantial changes to your app, affected developers will have an extended timeline to make any necessary updates. To view timelines and other updates, please visit our Help Center.
November 2019: Various updates as outlined below:
- We've clarified our Misleading Claims policy to highlight the prohibition of any disinformation or deception around medical, health-related and government services apps.
- We've updated our Metadata policy to ensure developers create better descriptions and titles that accurately represent their app.
- We've updated our Ad Network Certification policy to provide further clarification on ad SDK requirements.
- We've updated our Monetization and Ads policy on in-app virtual currencies.
- We've updated our Spam and Minimum Functionality policies to set higher quality standards for applications on Google Play.
August 2019: Various updates as outlined below:
- We've updated our Device and Network Abuse policy with an additional example addressing apps that facilitate proxy services to third parties.
- We've expanded our Financial Services policy to protect users from deceptive and exploitative personal loan terms.
- We've clarified our Misleading Claims policy with an additional example regarding demonstrably deceptive content that may interfere with voting processes.
May 2019: Various updates as outlined below:
- We've introduced a new Families policy and updated our Designed for Families program policy.
- We've introduced a new Ad Network Certification policy for apps that serve ads to children.
- We've updated our Inappropriate Content policies to clarify our existing Sexual Content and Hate Speech policies and introduce new policies on Marijuana, Tobacco and Alcohol.
- We've updated our Payments policy to introduce a requirement to disclose odds for lootboxes.
- We have updated our Gambling policy with additional examples.
- We've clarified our User Generated Content policy to explicitly prohibit monetization features that encourage objectionable behavior by users.
- We've updated our Minimum Functionality policy to ensure that apps on our platform are designed in a stable, engaging, and responsive way that satisfies all functionality requirements.
- We've updated our Intellectual Property policy to make clear the prohibition of the sale or promotion for sale of counterfeit goods within an app.
January 2019: Various updates as outlined below:
October 2018: Various updates as outlined below:
- We've clarified our Malicious Behavior policy prohibiting surveillance and commercial spyware apps.
- We've clarified our Design for Families program requirements and Primarily Child-Directed Declaration guidelines to prohibit misrepresentation of the participating apps and their target age group.
- We've updated our User Data and Permissions policies for more clarity and coverage; including to restrict Call Log and SMS permission usage.
- We are also removing user information available on the Contacts Provider; to learn more click here.
- We've updated our Enforcement section to explain the extent of our policy coverage, including the actions that we may take on apps that violate our policies.
July 2018: Various updates as outlined below:
- We've clarified our Child Endangerment policy to emphasize the prohibition of adult themes in apps that appeal to children.
- We’ve introduced a new policy that prohibits any sale of Dangerous Products, including firearms, explosives, etc. Our Violence policy has also been updated accordingly.
- We've introduced a new policy on Cryptocurrency mining in our Financial Instruments section.
- We've clarified our Spam policies to explicitly prohibit repetitive content on our platform. We also don’t allow apps whose primary purpose is to serve ads.
- We've introduced a new policy on misrepresentation in our Privacy, Security, and Deception policy section.
April 2018: Various updates as outlined below:
- We've clarified a few of our Restricted Content policies (Child Endangerment, Hate Speech, Violence, User Generated Content) to help ensure a safe user experience.
- We've introduced a new policy on Binary Options.
- We've shared new requirements for Daily Fantasy Sports apps.
- We've introduced new guidelines on Dishonest Behavior in our Deceptive Behavior policy section.
- We've clarified our standards on Malicious Behavior with some new examples.
- We've clarified our high-level policy on App Metadata.
- We've updated our eligibility criteria and common violations for Designed for Families program to clarify our position on user-generated content (UGC) apps and other inappropriate content.
November 2017: Various updates as outlined below:
October 2017: Various updates as outlined below:
- We’ve more clearly defined the geographical restrictions for our gambling policy.
- We’ve provided clarity on baseline functionality that must be present for apps on Google Play.
- We’ve identified certain guide app behavior that will preclude publication on Google Play.
- We’ve taken additional steps to protect users by limiting how and when developers can make permission requests.
August 2017: Various updates as outlined below:
- We’ve introduced new policies on gambling apps, which are currently permitted only in the UK, Ireland, and France.
- We’ve clarified our User Data policy to provide detailed guidance on prominent disclosure.
- We’re now hosting Android Instant Apps policies in a new category dedicated to other Android programs.
- We’re now hosting content rating guidelines under our Store Listing and Promotion category.
June 2017: Various updates as outlined below:
- We have introduced new guidelines on data protection as required by the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield.
May 2017: Various updates as outlined below:
- We’ve revised our Malicious Behavior policy to clarify our position on downloading executable code.
- We've updated our Ratings, Reviews, and Installs policy to further clarify our position on incentivized installs.
- We’ve published additional policy requirements for the distribution of Android Instant Apps via Google Play.
- We are sharing 10 tips to help you stay on the right side of Google Play policy. Enjoy the video!
April 2017: Various updates as outlined below:
- We’ve clarified the program requirements for Designed for Families and added eligibility criteria for Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality apps.
- We’ve introduced a Child-Directed Declaration policy that requires developers to declare whether their app is primarily child-directed in the Play Console.
July 2016: Various updates as outlined below:
- Addition of a Google Play Families Program Policy tile to the Policy Center.
- We’ve clarified our Privacy and Security policies to help developers better determine when privacy disclosure is required, and where such disclosure should be available to users.
- We've updated our Restricted Content policies to further clarify our stance on sexually explicit services.
- We’ve updated our gambling ad policies to share the requirements a developer must adhere to when displaying gambling ads in Play.
- We’re introducing a User Generated Content policy that outlines minimum safety feature requirements.
- We’ve added examples to both the Deceptive Behavior and Violence policies, to clarify disallowed behavior or content.
March 2016: Various updates as outlined below:
- We've updated the requirements under the Ads policy to prohibit inappropriate ads.
- We've introduced requirements under the Device and Network Abuse policy regarding Doze and App Standby.
- We've introduced requirements under the Ads policy regarding ads that interfere with system functionality.
- We've clarified the existing requirements under the User Data policy.
- We've launched a new Developer Policy Center.