Tag Archives: Policies

Simplifying our Play Store policies on gamified loyalty programs

Google Play is a vibrant platform where developers are constantly innovating to delight users and address emerging needs. Striking the right balance between developer creativity and user trust is critical to building a thriving ecosystem that enables these innovative solutions to become successful businesses. We accomplish this balance through a set of policies that are regularly reviewed and revised, to ensure that we do right by both developers and users.

App developers in India are actively building uniquely Indian features and services.  One example is the use of mini games, quizzes and other gamification techniques to delight users and convert them into loyal customers. These experiences are often launched during important festivals and sporting events, and getting it right within the specific time window is critically important. This is one of the things we discussed when we spoke to several startup CEOs in India and around the world in the past few months. And, as part of the very first policy update of 2021 we are clarifying and simplifying the policies around loyalty programs and features. 

Based on feedback from developers globally, we have updated our policy guidance on gamified loyalty programs that are based on a qualified monetary transaction in the app and offer prizes of cash or other real-world value. 

The update provides more clarity on policy requirements for loyalty program disclosures and features. It is designed to safeguard users and optimize the developer experience. For example, the policy provides updated guidance on the use of features such as a spin-the-wheel experience, a guessing game, or a 1:1 points redemption to drive loyalty. See the Play Policy Center for more details.

While we do not allow Real Money Gambling apps on the Play Store in India, we remain committed to engaging with industry and government bodies as they deliberate on measures that will best support this industry.

Today we are also launching a web resource called How Google Play Works – a repository of useful information and best practices to enable developers to continue delivering innovative and secure apps and games to people around the world. It also contains India-specific details on programs that local developers can leverage to find success and scale. For users, this site helps to demystify key aspects of the Google Play platform, and explains how user security and protection remains at the heart of everything we do.

As India’s digital ecosystem continues its exponential growth, we consider ourselves fortunate to play a part in its success. We are committed to enabling a trusted ecosystem and being responsive to the needs of India’s entrepreneurs as they build innovative and engaging experiences for consumers around the world.

Posted by Suzanne Frey, Vice President, Product, Android Security and Privacy


Protecting against harmful financial services products

Providing a safe and secure experience across Google’s products is our top priority. Our global product policies are designed and implemented with this goal in mind, and we're always working to improve our practices to enhance user safety. 

Personal loan apps have received attention recently, and we wanted to clarify the action we have taken on these apps on Google Play. 

We have reviewed hundreds of personal loan apps in India, based on flags submitted by users and government agencies. The apps that were found to violate our user safety policies were immediately removed from the Store, and we have asked the developers of the remaining identified apps to demonstrate that they comply with applicable local laws and regulations. Apps that fail to do so will be removed without further notice. In addition, we will continue to assist the law enforcement agencies in their investigation of this issue.   

Protecting users from deceptive financial products and services

All developers in the Play Store agree to the terms of the Google Play Developer Distribution Agreement, which stipulates that apps must adhere to applicable rules and laws, including generally accepted practices and guidelines. In addition, the Google Play Developer Policy requires financial services apps that offer personal loans to disclose key information such as the minimum and maximum periods of repayment, the maximum Annual Percentage Rate, and a representative example of the total loan cost. To help further ensure that users are making sound choices, we only allow  personal loan apps with full repayment required in greater than or equal to 60 days from the date the loan is issued. 

We believe transparency of information around the features, fees, risks, and benefits of personal loans will help people make informed decisions about their financial needs, thereby reducing the risk of being exposed to deceptive financial products and services. 

In addition, we publish reports of alleged local law violations, including those submitted by government agencies in our Transparency Report

Protecting user privacy 

To protect user privacy, developers must only request permissions that are necessary to implement current features or services. They should not use permissions that give access to user or device data for undisclosed, unimplemented, or disallowed features or purposes. 

Developers must also only use data for purposes that the user has consented to, and if they later want to use the data for other purposes, they must obtain user permission for the additional uses. 

Google Play users expect a safe, secure and seamless experience, and developers come to Play for powerful tools and services that help them build and grow their businesses. Our policies help us deliver on these expectations, and we continue to work hard to ensure Google Play is a platform that supports the entire ecosystem.

Posted by Suzanne Frey, Vice President, Product, Android Security and Privacy 


Protecting against harmful financial services products

Providing a safe and secure experience across Google’s products is our top priority. Our global product policies are designed and implemented with this goal in mind, and we're always working to improve our practices to enhance user safety. 

Personal loan apps have received attention recently, and we wanted to clarify the action we have taken on these apps on Google Play. 

We have reviewed hundreds of personal loan apps in India, based on flags submitted by users and government agencies. The apps that were found to violate our user safety policies were immediately removed from the Store, and we have asked the developers of the remaining identified apps to demonstrate that they comply with applicable local laws and regulations. Apps that fail to do so will be removed without further notice. In addition, we will continue to assist the law enforcement agencies in their investigation of this issue.   

Protecting users from deceptive financial products and services

All developers in the Play Store agree to the terms of the Google Play Developer Distribution Agreement, which stipulates that apps must adhere to applicable rules and laws, including generally accepted practices and guidelines. In addition, the Google Play Developer Policy requires financial services apps that offer personal loans to disclose key information such as the minimum and maximum periods of repayment, the maximum Annual Percentage Rate, and a representative example of the total loan cost. To help further ensure that users are making sound choices, we only allow  personal loan apps with full repayment required in greater than or equal to 60 days from the date the loan is issued. 

We believe transparency of information around the features, fees, risks, and benefits of personal loans will help people make informed decisions about their financial needs, thereby reducing the risk of being exposed to deceptive financial products and services. 

In addition, we publish reports of alleged local law violations, including those submitted by government agencies in our Transparency Report

Protecting user privacy 

To protect user privacy, developers must only request permissions that are necessary to implement current features or services. They should not use permissions that give access to user or device data for undisclosed, unimplemented, or disallowed features or purposes. 

Developers must also only use data for purposes that the user has consented to, and if they later want to use the data for other purposes, they must obtain user permission for the additional uses. 

Google Play users expect a safe, secure and seamless experience, and developers come to Play for powerful tools and services that help them build and grow their businesses. Our policies help us deliver on these expectations, and we continue to work hard to ensure Google Play is a platform that supports the entire ecosystem.

Posted by Suzanne Frey, Vice President, Product, Android Security and Privacy 


Tips for getting your app approved for background location access

Posted by Krish Vitaldevara, Director of Product Management Trust & Safety, Google Play

Graphic of phone with googleplay logo and icons to the left

When it comes to privacy, we are committed to giving users control and transparency over data access. Users consistently tell us that they want more control over their location data, so earlier this year we announced a few privacy improvements, such as updates to Google Play’s Location Permissions policy and enhancements to location permission controls in Android 11.

To help prevent unnecessary access to background location, the updated policy allows access only if it’s critical to the app’s core functionality and provides clear user benefit. We found that many apps that requested background location don’t actually need it. Removing or changing it to foreground can help apps be battery-efficient and avoid poor app ratings when users don’t want to share their location.

If your app uses background location data, you must submit a form for review and receive approval by January 18, 2021 so your apps can stay on Google Play. Existing apps first published before April 16, 2020 have until March 29, 2021 to comply.

Tips to get approved

  • If your app has multiple features that use background location, choose the one that provides the most user benefit. Describe in detail why background (and not foreground) location is needed and how it is used. Learn more
  • You must include a short video that shows how users will encounter your prominent disclosure, location-based feature and enable it in-app. If your video doesn’t show this or we can’t access the link, your request won’t be approved. We recommend that you upload it to YouTube or Google Drive.
  • Remember to include a prominent in-app disclosure to explain to users what data is used and how. Learn more
  • Ensure your privacy policy is clearly labeled and includes details on location data usage. Learn more

Resources to help

We want to help you through this process, so we’ve created this video and free training courses in Google Play Academy to use as a reference when you’re making any necessary app updates. You can also check out these best privacy practices and technical details to help identify possible background location usage in your code.

Thank you for continuing to partner with us to make Google Play a trustworthy platform for you and your users.

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How we fought bad ads, sites and scammers in 2016

Cross-posted from The Keyword 
A free and open web is a vital resource for people and businesses around the world. And ads play a key role in ensuring you have access to accurate, quality information online. But bad ads can ruin the online experience for everyone. They promote illegal products and unrealistic offers. They can trick people into sharing personal information and infect devices with harmful software. Ultimately, bad ads pose a threat to users, Google’s partners, and the sustainability of the open web itself.
We have a strict set of policies that govern the types of ads we do and don’t allow on Google in order to protect people from misleading, inappropriate, or harmful ads. And we have a team of engineers, policy experts, product managers and others who are waging a daily fight against bad actors. Over the years, this commitment has made the web a better place for you—and a worse place for those who seek to abuse advertising systems for their own gain.
In 2016, we took down 1.7 billion ads that violated our advertising policies, more than double the amount of bad ads we took down in 2015. If you spent one second taking down each of those bad ads, it’d take you more than 50 years to finish. But our technology is built to work much faster.
Last year, we did two key things to take down more bad ads. First, we expanded our policies to better protect users from misleading and predatory offers. For example, in July we introduced a policy to ban ads for payday loans, which often result in unaffordable payments and high default rates for users. In the six months since launching this policy, we disabled more than 5 million payday loan ads. Second, we beefed up our technology so we can spot and disable bad ads even faster. For example, “trick to click" ads often appear as system warnings to deceive users into clicking on them, not realizing they are often downloading harmful software or malware. In 2016, our systems detected and disabled a total of 112 million ads for “trick to click,” 6X more than in 2015.
Here are a few more examples of bad ads we took action against in 2016:
Ads for illegal products 
Some of the most common bad ads we find online are ads promoting illegal activities or products. Although we've long had a policy against bad ads for pharmaceuticals, last year our systems detected an increase online. We disabled more than 68 million bad ads for healthcare violations, up from 12.5 million in 2015.
Similarly, we saw more attempts to advertise gambling-related promotions without proper authorization from regulators in the countries they operate. We took down more than 17 million bad ads for illegal gambling violations in 2016.
17M ads removed for illegal gambling violations

Misleading ads
We don't want you to feel misled by ads that we deliver, so we require our advertisers to provide upfront information for people make informed decisions. Some ads try to drive clicks and views by intentionally misleading people with false information like asking, “Are you at risk for this rare, skin-eating disease?” or offering miracle cures like a pill that will help you lose 50 pounds in three days without lifting a finger. In 2016, we took down nearly 80 million bad ads for deceiving, misleading and shocking users.
Bad ads on mobile
If you’ve ever been on your phone and suddenly, without warning, ended up in the app store downloading an app you’ve never heard of, a “self-clicking ad” could be to blame. In 2015, we disabled only a few thousand of these bad ads, but in 2016, our systems detected and disabled more than 23,000 self-clicking ads on our platforms, a huge increase year over year.
Ads trying to game the system
Bad actors know that ads for certain products—like weight-loss supplements or payday loans—aren’t allowed by Google's policies, so they try to trick our systems into letting them through. Last year, we took down almost 7 million bad ads for intentionally attempting to trick our detection systems.
In 2016, we saw the rise of tabloid cloakers, a new type of scammer that tries to game our system by pretending to be news. Cloakers often take advantage of timely topics—a government election, a trending news story or a popular celebrity—and their ads can look like headlines on a news website. But when people click on that story about Ellen DeGeneres and aliens, they go to a site selling weight-loss products, not a news story.
To fight cloakers, we take down the scammers themselves, and prevent them from advertising with us again. In 2016, we suspended more than 1,300 accounts for tabloid cloaking. Unfortunately, this type of bad ad is gaining in popularity because people are clicking on them. And a handful of scammers can pump out a lot of bad ads: During a single sweep for tabloid cloaking in December 2016, we took down 22 cloakers that were responsible for ads seen more than 20 million times by people online in a single week.
1,300+ accounts suspended for tabloid cloaking

Promoting and profiting from bad sites
When we find ads that violate our policies, we block the ad or the advertiser, depending on the violation. But sometimes we also need to suspend the website promoted in the ad (the site people see after they click on it). So, for example, while we disabled more than 5 million payday loan ads last year, we also took action on 8,000 sites promoting payday loans.
Here are some examples of common policy violations we saw among bad sites in 2016:
  • We took action on 47,000 sites for promoting content and products related to weight-loss scams. 
  • We took action on more than 15,000 sites for unwanted software and disabled 900,000 ads for containing malware.
  • And we suspended around 6,000 sites and 6,000 accounts for attempting to advertise counterfeit goods, like imitation designer watches. 
6,000 sites and 6,000 accounts removed for attempting to sell counterfeit goods


Publishers and website owners use our AdSense platform to make money by running ads on their sites and content, so we have strict policies in place to keep Google's content and search networks safe and clean for our advertisers, users and publishers. When a publisher violates our policies, we may stop showing ads on their site, or even terminate their account.
We've had long-standing policies prohibiting AdSense publishers from running ads on sites that help people deceive others, like a site where you buy fake diplomas or plagiarized term papers. In November, we expanded on these policies, introducing a new AdSense misrepresentative content policy, that helps us to take action against website owners misrepresenting who they are and that deceive people with their content. From November to December 2016, we reviewed 550 sites that were suspected of misrepresenting content to users, including impersonating news organizations.  We took action against 340 of them for violating our policies, both misrepresentation and other offenses, and nearly 200 publishers were kicked out of our network permanently.
In addition to all the above, we support industry efforts like the Coalition for Better Ads to protect people from bad experiences across the web. While we took down more bad ads in 2016 than ever before, the battle doesn’t end here. As we invest in better detection, the scammers invest in more elaborate attempts to trick our systems. Continuing to find and fight them is essential to protecting people online and ensuring you get the very best from the open web.

Source: Inside AdSense