On 1 March 2016, Google Play has added a significant update to its Developer Program Policy Center.

The new Policy Center includes important updated rules and guidelines for apps published on Google Play, as well as visual examples for the most common violations. The new Policy Center also includes expanded information on policy enforcement in order to help resolve violations.

Some of the key changes and clarifications in the new policy include the following:

Quality and network abuse

Privacy and user data

  • Apps must post a privacy policy which, together with any in-app disclosures, comprehensively discloses the collection, use and sharing of any user data handled by your app, how it is used, and the types of parties with whom it is shared.
  • Apps must handle the user data securely, including transmitting it by using modern cryptography (for example, over HTTPS).
  • Apps that monitor or track a user’s behavior on a device must present users with a persistent notification and unique icon that clearly identifies the app.
  • If the app collects personal user data unrelated to functionality which is prominently described in the app’s listing on Google Play or on the app interface, then prior to the collection, it must prominently highlight how the user data will be used and ensure that the user provides affirmative consent for such use (for example, an app that collects or transmits the user’s inventory of installed apps should be subject to adequate disclosure and obtain the user’s consent).

Ads and monetization

  • Apps should not display inappropriate ads, given the intended audience of the app (even if the content by itself is otherwise compliant with Google Play policies).
  • Ads associated with the app should not:
    • Be triggered by the home button or other features explicitly designed for exiting the app.
    • Interfere with other apps, ads, or the operation of the device, including system or device buttons and ports (and which include overlays, companion functionality, or widgetized ad units).

Content restriction

  • Apps with user generated content (UGC) should employ sufficient safeguards against threats, harassment, or bullying, particularly toward minors.
  • With respect to gambling, the new policy clarifies that apps should not redirect users to a gambling or betting website where users can earn real money (including ad SDKs that redirect users to gambling websites which facilitate real gambling).

It is apparent that the new Policy Center improves the degree of transparency and clarity by which Google Play policies are communicated, and is expected to have a considerable impact on the developers' community. We invite our clients and friends to approach us with any questions concerning Google Play policies.