Google activates Android Market app kill switch

Google confirmed it recently activated Android Market's remote application removal tool to wipe all installed copies of two unnamed research applications voluntarily deleted from the app storefront by their developer. Writing on the Android Developers Blog, Android Security lead Rich Cannings states that the offending apps, described as "practically useless" but not malicious, misrepresented their purpose to encourage downloads--according to Canning, the apps did not have permission to access private data or system resources beyond permission.INTERNET. "After the researcher voluntarily removed these applications from Android Market, we decided, per the Android Market Terms of Service, to exercise our remote application removal feature on the remaining installed copies to complete the cleanup," Cannings writes, noting that most consumers deleted the apps soon after installing them.

Google cites violations of the Android Market Developer Distribution Agreement or Content Policy as the catalysts behind most app removals. In the event a malicious app poses a threat, Google also maintains technologies and processes to remove installed apps from Android devices, adding it sends the user a notification in the event it deletes software from their device. "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," Cannings writes. "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."  

For more on the Android app kill switch:
- read this Android Developers Blog entry

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