Summary: An app that allowed users to moderate content reside on their own telephones was given the boot by Google after it was determined to be in violation of Play Store settles.

The self-explanatory “Remove China Apps” app was developed by Indian designers residing in Jaipur, India in collaboration with One Touch App Labs. The app was created in response to growing backlash against China during the early days of the COVID-1 9 pandemic, after early reports testified visitors to a seafood market in Wuhan, China had contributed to the spread of the virus.

India’s close proximity to China intensified this backlash. How removing apps developed in China was supposed to stop the spread of the virus is best left to the maybe literally-fevered imaginations of the app makes and the millions of Indian users who downloaded the app.

However questionable the motivation for the progress and deployment of the app, it did stand Android useds to easily identify apps developed by Chinese developers and remove them from their telephones. However, this secondhand act of personal material temperance was soon hampered by Google, which dropped the app from its Play store, citing violations of its policies. Specific, Google pointed to its “deceptive behavior” policy. App developers are forbidden from uploading apps that “encourage or incentivize customers to remove or disable third-party apps.”

Decisions to be made by Google:

Should Google see how Android phone purchasers choose to use their phones? Should Google be more concerned with possible exploitation of permissions to compromise phone users, rather than the ability of users to more closely moderate the content of their machines? Is an app that frankly territory it will remove other apps actually “deceptive? ”

Questions and policy implications to consider:

Could apps like these serve a useful intent, like generate Google a heads up on controversial apps/ developers? Does maintaining a blocklist for devs/ users achieve the same objective without harming developers who rely on crowdfunding? Does propagandizing Android users towards sideloading apps do less to protect users than removing controversial apps that run afoul of rules rarely broken by app makes?

Resolution: Google has refused to reinstate the app. Android users are still able to sideload the app if they are willing to. The notoriety of the app moved further than India and the county’s kneejerk reaction to developments in Wuhan, China.

But Google still has a battle ahead of it. With it dominating roughly 95% of the Indian market, the needs of the apps that( precisely or incorrectly) “punish” Chinese app makes remains a growth market.

Originally affixed to the Trust& Safety Foundation website.

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