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Google is working to be transparent about why it remotely removes apps from its phones in the rare cases it does.
Kills a questionable app that appears to have been a security application, carefully explains actions

Google, like Apple, has implemented a system on its Android smartphone operating system that can remotely delete apps when necessary.  The news of this "kill switch" leaked well over a year ago, but Google has hardly used it. 

This week Google announced that it had recently killed some apps remotely, perhaps for the first time.  The company explains in a blog post:

Every now and then, we remove applications from Android Market due to violations of our Android Market Developer Distribution Agreement or Content Policy. In cases where users may have installed a malicious application that poses a threat, we’ve also developed technologies and processes to remotely remove an installed application from devices. If an application is removed in this way, users will receive a notification on their phone.

Apparently, the apps it removed were the work of a security researcher and not truly dangerous.  The apps were distributed on the Android market and purposefully misrepresented themselves, but were not designed to be truly dangerous -- they gained no "resources beyond permission.INTERNET."

The researcher eventually removed that apps from the market (likely when his study was complete) and Google executed a remote kill on the instances of the two apps that still remained on users' phones.

Google elaborates:

The remote application removal feature is one of many security controls Android possesses to help protect users from malicious applications. In case of an emergency, a dangerous application could be removed from active circulation in a rapid and scalable manner to prevent further exposure to users. While we hope to not have to use it, we know that we have the capability to take swift action on behalf of users’ safety when needed.
This remote removal functionality — along with Android’s unique Application Sandbox and Permissions model, Over-The-Air update system, centralized Market, developer registrations, user-submitted ratings, and application flagging — provides a powerful security advantage to help protect Android users in our open environment.

While Google has the right to manage its own business, it's certainly refreshing to see that it goes the extra mile in communicating and being so transparent about explaining why its reasoning behind executing what might otherwise be a controversial feature, when it does. 

Much of the criticism Apple's iPhone app rejections generated was due to the fact that they were poorly explained.  It looks like Google is intent on maintaining a high level of transparency, something which its customers will surely appreciate.



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This is ridiculous!
By JackBurton on 6/25/2010 10:55:00 AM , Rating: 2
This is ridiculous and a blatant abuse of power on Apple's part. Steve Jobs is just a control freak and Apple fanboys just keep supporting Apple not matter what they do. I guess that's why they call them fanboys.

Oh wait, this isn't about the iPhone? Never mind then.




RE: This is ridiculous!
By Iaiken on 6/25/2010 11:24:15 AM , Rating: 3
This is required at some level for Google to protect itself in the overly aggressive copyrighted world we live in.

Google has positioned itself to be able to adhere to copyright law. This allows them to not only cease the deployment of copyrighted material, but allows them to essentially claw back those materials that have been distributed in violation of copyright.

Further, they are able to remove apps that pose a security threat to their users. Those which misrepresent themselves or would offend their customers (think obscene media masquerading as a game or viruses that try to steal all your personal data).

The most important part of this is the level of transparency with which Google conducts this messy business.

It is unfortunate, but with such an open platform, there still must be some limits. As these phones become more capable, you WILL see things like apps that get hijacked and replaced with data farmers, or mobile porn file servers or any number of things that people haven't even thought up yet.

These phones are consumer electronics and the consumer expects them to be like the other consumer electronics in their life. They expect them to just work, without them having to mess around with it, force-kill apps, uninstall viruses or blank it and restore it to the vendors default. Why? Because John Q. Yokel doesn't have a f%^$ing clue in his head how to do any of that.


RE: This is ridiculous!
By Lazarus Dark on 6/25/2010 7:49:06 PM , Rating: 2
I'm thinking this is all good for apps on the Android Market. But if I understand correctly, you can still install apps that aren't on the Market, right? So, Google only controls the Android Market, that is thiers and they SHOULD take responsibility for those apps. But you should still be able to install any other apps you want, so there is no restriction on you doing what you want with the phone. I am typically a hyper-paranoid, but I am okay with Googles stance on this.


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