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Google to Clamp Down on Devious Apps That Demand Ease of Access

14 Noviembre 2017
Google to Clamp Down on Devious Apps That Demand Ease of Access

The impetus for this move appears to be existence of (now removed) apps in the Play Store which use Accessibility features in conjunction with a vulnerability patched as part of the September security update to install malware.

Google has sent an email to developers, stating that "unless developers can describe how the app properly uses the Accessibility Services to help users who are disabled, it will need to remove all requests for accessibility services or it will be taken off of the Play Store", 9to5Google reported.

The malware asks users to provide access to Accessibility Services and then performs malicious tasks in the background.

As per XDA Developers, the Android 8.1 Oreo update has a new feature that will automatically flag apps as inactive and will deprioritize the cache files for the specific app.

A couple minutes ago I received this email, which can pretty much be summarized to "If your app doesn't use accessibility services for what they're meant to be for, you might as well unpublish it because we're going to take it down in a month anyway".

Google is now making its guidelines stricter for apps to use Accessibility Services for imposing their own unique elements.

Accessibility services are now often found in banking trojans, mobile ransomware strains, click-fraud bots, adware, and about any other malware category. Your app must comply with our Permissions policy and the Prominent Disclosure requirements of our User Data policy.

The policy enforcement could affect apps like LastPass, Tasker, Cereberus and Universal Copy that use accessibility code for key features not intended for handicapped users.

Failure to explain why an app needs the use of the accessibility services API could potentially see apps removed from the Google Play store.

Alternatively, you can choose to unpublish the app.

"All violations are tracked". The problem is, it could mean that lots of popular apps are removed from the Play Store as a by-product. The company also informs that repeated violations can call for a termination of the developer's account as well as related Google accounts after investigation.

If you've reviewed the policy and feel we may have been in error, please reach out to our policy support team.