Google’s New Developer Policy Causing Trouble for ESET Mobile Security Users

By Bill Toulas / January 14, 2019

Google’s Developer Policy is a set of guidelines and rules that are to be adhered by Android application developers, so as to ensure the safety of users. The policy contains instructions on how developers should handle restricted content, user privacy and security, protection against impersonation, protection of intellectual property, acceptable ways to implement monetization, how to perform updates, and anything else that is relevant to how an Android application works. As Google tries to enrich and strengthen this policy, they sometimes go to the extent of rendering previously accepted apps as failing to comply.

One of the most notable recent examples of this is a change in the SMS permission policy that has led ESET to publish a blog post, urging Google’s team to reconsider the change that essentially results in the undermining of their Mobile Security suite operation. More specifically, Google has imposed a new guideline which dictates that SMS permissions will only be granted to applications that are replacing the default SMS messaging functionality on the device. According to this new guideline, ESET’s Parental Control and Anti-Theft features of their security suite will have to be ditched.

ESET claims that more than 75% of their Mobile Security users have set the suite to use a coded SMS that helps lock, locate or wipe the device, and another 30% of users have configured the app to send a coded SMS to their children’s devices. In conjunction, Google’s new SMS permission granting policy is rendering a large part of ESET’s product functionality useless, and the cybersecurity company has already received the relevant notification by Google that asks them to remove this functionality. ESET has submitted a request for an exception, but Google repeatedly declined to grant it.

ESET has been collaborating with Google, helping them identify and remove malicious apps from the Play Store numerous times in the past. That said, ESET has proven their intentions, while their products have never betrayed customers’ trust. Still, though, Google will not make an exception, even if this means that many Android users will now lose the advanced security and safety features that they enjoyed through ESET Mobile Security. The deadline for the compliance with the new guidelines is set for the end of this month, so it will be interesting to see how things will unfold until then.

Are you using ESET’s SMS functionality either for parental safety or the anti-theft features? Are you sad to see these features being under threat now? Let us know in the comments below, and feel free to share this story through our socials, on Facebook and Twitter.

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