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Google Play Policy Developer Updates

August 2022: Article by Mobile DevOps

At the end of July Google announced policy changes for Android apps deployed through the Google Play store. Therefore, these policy changes only affect our Android apps that are consumer facing. The MCoE recommends compliance ASAP in order to meet Google’s “at least” 30 days from announcement to enforcement timeframe. All policies, including when they are in effect, can be found in Google’s Policy Center.

Highlights of new policies

Google is introducing a new restricted permission requirement for Exact Alarm API, stating that apps must only declare this permission if their core functionality requires an exact alarm.

Under the Device and Network Abuse policy there are new requirements for the FLAG_SECURE declaration. All apps must respect the FLAG_SECURE declaration and not facilitate or create workarounds to bypass the settings in other apps.

New permissions policy states that all apps must have acceptable core functionalities to use VPNService class. Guidance on key requirements for using VPNService class is now available.

Highlights of updated policies

Updated health misinformation guidelines not allowing apps containing misleading health claims that contradict existing medical consensus or that can cause harm to users.

Updated existing stalkerware guidance with a monitoring apps flag “IsMonitoringTool” for all legitimate monitoring applications. All apps that use this tool must also disclose monitoring or tracking functionality in their Google Play store description.

Examples and clarification to existing policies

New examples and clarifications for some existing policies have been added such as consolidating health and medical-related policies into an improved page.

Under the Inappropriate Content policy, “sensitive events” definition is clarified and includes examples. They don’t allow apps to capitalize on or are insensitive toward a sensitive event with significant social, cultural, or political impact (e.g. civil emergencies, natural disasters, public health emergencies, conflicts, deaths, or other tragic events).

Under the User Data policy, Privacy Policy guidelines now state that all apps must post a privacy policy publicly accessible link in the designated field within Play Console and a privacy policy link or text within the app itself.

If you encounter issues or have questions, please contacted the Mobile DevOps team via our Jira Service Desk or the MCoE-MobileDevOps Teams channel.

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KAISER PERMANENTE exists to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. The MCoE (Mobility Center of Excellence) team exists to deliver complex mobile solutions through enterprise-wide engagements. We design, develop, certify, and deploy mobile apps for KP members, providers, and workforce. We are available for your Community of Practice or other meetings.

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