Google Play rejecting, whitelisting SMS, phone apps


Enforcing a previously announced new policy, Google Play this week began monitoring and potentially rejecting apps that request phone call logs and SMS permissions if they don’t abide by a set of rules in an effort to protect user privacy.

Only an app that has been selected as a user's default app for making calls or text messages will be able to access call logs and SMS, respectively, Google reported on Oct. 8 on its Developers Blog.

Monitoring reportedly is being handled via a combination of automation and human checking.

Google told developers they must be transparent in how they handle user data (e.g., information collected from or about a user, including device information), in addition to any requirements prescribed by applicable privacy or data protection laws.

Apps that handle sensitive user data now must, according to the new rules:

  • Limit collection and use of such data to purposes directly related to providing and improving the features of the app (e.g., user-anticipated functionality that is documented and promoted in the app's description).
  • Post a privacy policy in both the designated field in the Play Console and within the app itself. The privacy policy must, together with any in-app disclosures, comprehensively disclose how the app collects, uses, and shares user data. The developer’s privacy policy must disclose the type of parties to which any personal or sensitive user data is shared.
  • Handle all personal or sensitive user data securely, including transmitting it using modern cryptography (for example, over HTTPS).

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