Espionage apps – also called stalkerware apps – come in all kinds of forms. It has already been banned to advertise such apps since August, but Google is taking it one step further. Clarity will soon be created by means of a new policy regarding the permitted use of such espionage apps.

What is an espionage app for?

Espionage apps can be used to collect data completely discretely and without the knowledge of the person in question. This can include viewing what someone is doing with their mobile phone, where they are located, following phone calls and messages, and so on. All this information gets collected and forwarded to another device. In this way all this data becomes available to the installer of the stalkerware app. Naturally, these types of apps violate the privacy of the person you’re spying on because he/she is not aware that an espionage app has been installed on his/her mobile phone. Yet these apps are marketed as “ideal” for tracking partners, children and even employees.

Changes on the way

As of October 1, 2020, the following typo: “In addition, we’re correcting a typo in our Stalkerware policy. All apps will have until October 1, 2020 to comply with this correction.” gets corrected in Google’s current policy and they’re kicking off their new policy: https://support.google.com/googleplay/android-developer/answer/10065487 #stalkerware. This means that as of October 1, 2020 these types of apps can still be used by parents who want to follow the activities of their children. However, tracking your partner or another individual is not allowed, unless this person gives his/her explicit permission for this or when a clear and recognizable notification is shown on the device of the person in question when data is being sent.

Additional Requirements

Stalkerware apps should never advertise themselves as “spy or secret surveillance solutions”. They may only be distributed through the Google Play store and must comply with legal requirements in the country where they are offered. There are many limitations that should put an end to the ambiguity surrounding these apps. With this new policy, Google clearly takes the position that the apps should not be used to secretly track the partner or another person. It’s important to note that this Google policy is separate from country-specific law, which of course also still applies. Do you still want to know your partner’s whereabouts? Reach out to us for more information!