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Internet Friendly Google Remotely Flips the Kill Switch on Questionable Android Apps
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Google Remotely Flips the Kill Switch on Questionable Android Apps

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android guyThe Android Market may be open, but Google does control what ends up on your Android device, and can remotely remove the applications if need be. Now, Google has done exactly that, removing two applications that violated the Android Market rules.

These apps were hardly dangerous; Google claims they were “built by a security researcher for research purposes” and “were not designed to be used maliciously.” Furthermore, most users that installed them have removed them from their Android device themselves.

Still, since the apps “intentionally misrepresented their purpose,” Google decided to remove the remaining installed copies, probably not because it perceived them as a real threat, but simply to show that the Android Market is safe.

From the blog post:

“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.”

Recently, we wrote about a report which claimed that one in five apps in the Android Market is a potential privacy threat. Many commenters pointed out that the apps the report portrayed as dangerous were designed to do a specific task that only seems like a threat (for example, apps that can remotely render your phone useless in case of theft) and had to be given permissions for their actions by the owner of the device. Google also reacted, claiming that the report “falsely suggests that Android users don’t have control over which apps access their data.”

We already knew that Google can remotely disable dangerous apps in the Android Market. By exercising this right for the first time, Google reminds us that it keeps a tight rein over Android Market’s security.

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