Google to boot out sneaky Android apps seeking SMS and Call Log access

Google has said it will begin removing Android apps that seek unjustified access to the device owner’s call and text message logs.

The company is requiring apps that request this highly personal information from users’ devices must fill in a permissions declarations form to explain why, or revoke the permissions in a new version of the app.

Developers that fail to do either will be removed from the Play Store automatically, as will those who fail to provide sufficient reasoning.

The news comes from Paul Bankhead, who is the director of product management at Google, who points out that many apps, such as diallers or messaging tools, require such access as part of their basic functionality.

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In a blog post (via The Register), he wrote: “We take access to sensitive data and permissions very seriously. This is especially true with SMS and Call Log permissions, which were designed to allow users to pick their favourite dialler or messaging app, but have also been used to enable many other experiences that might not require that same level of access.

“Our new policy is designed to ensure that apps asking for these permissions need full and ongoing access to the sensitive data in order to accomplish the app’s primary use case, and that users will understand why this data would be required for the app to function.”

Developers affected by the policy change have already been emailed and have been given 90 days to either remove those permissions or submit the aforementioned form. The company says each submission will be evaluated by its review teams. It says tens of thousands of devs have already resubmitted apps to support the new policy, or submitted a form.

“Over the next few weeks, we will be removing apps from the Play Store that ask for SMS or Call Log permission and have not submitted a permission declaration form,” Bankhead added.

Those apps subject to removal must submit a new version of the app without these permissions or submit the firm before March 9.

Does Google do a good enough job of keeping app permissions under control? Let us know @TrustedReviews on Twitter.

 

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