Google Removes Apps From Play Store For Covertly Collecting Personally Identifiable Information: Report

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Google has reportedly removed several apps from its Play Store after discovering that these apps collect users’ personal information, including location, phone numbers and email addresses. Google said it regularly takes “appropriate action” against apps that don’t comply with its policies. Recently, Google removed six apps infected with Sharkbot bank heist malware from Google Play. The apps, posing as antivirus solutions, were downloaded 15,000 times before being ejected from the store.

According to a BBC report, the latest batch of over a dozen apps ousted from the Google Play Store included a QR code scanner, a weather app and a Muslim prayer app. These apps allegedly contained malicious code that stole people’s data, the report said, adding that some of the apps had been downloaded more than 10 million times. “All apps on Google Play must comply with our policies, regardless of the developer. If we find that an app violates these guidelines, we take appropriate action,” the BBC quoted a Google spokesman as saying.

Per Google’s Developer Content Policy, apps that are misleading, malicious, or designed to abuse or misappropriate any network, device, or personal information are strictly prohibited from the Google Play Store. App developers have also been warned that they must clearly tell users what information they are sharing.

The news follows a development that saw Google remove six apps from the Play Store. These apps were developed as antivirus solutions for Android smartphones. The apps were infected with the Sharkbot Bankstealer malware and were downloaded 15,000 times. The apps targeting the phones used a geofencing feature to steal login credentials from users in Italy and the UK.

Earlier this year, a security firm discovered an app stealing financial information from users on Android smartphones. The app posed as an open-source application that offers the same functionality. It was infected with a malicious banking Trojan and was downloaded over 10,000 times before being removed from the Google Play Store.



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