In general, the developer automatically agrees when publishing applications (games, software products, etc.) on the App Store and Google Play platforms to comply with the terms of work with them. Otherwise, the objects will simply not be published.
The main conditions are fixed in the agreement with the Apple developer (hereinafter referred to as the Apple Agreement) and the Google Play agreement on the distribution of software products (hereinafter referred to as the Google Agreement). In addition, the developer and its products should be subject to and conform to the rules of programs for developers, the rules for Apple developers. These documents untie the hands of the platforms.
In their policies, the App Store and Google Play provide guidelines, violation of which may result in a warning, application blocking, and rejection of their publication.
For example, if the consequences of violating the Google Play Rules are only a warning, this will not affect your account’s reputation in any way. But if the application is banned several times, Google will block the entire account.
Blocking does not always happen for obvious reasons, there is even a petition addressed to Google against being banned using a “insensitive” bot – Restore Google Play Developer Account and stop banning by senseless bot.
In this article, we will describe the main contractual and legal aspects that are the reason for blocking games and applications in stores. We hope that after reading the material, the developers will devote more time to legal issues or delegate this to specialized lawyers.
Ensuring confidentiality and protection of personal data
According to Apple, 40% of apps were rejected by the company. The most common reason for denial of placement is minor application errors. In second place is privacy breach.
The fact that protecting user privacy is paramount in the Apple ecosystem is also mentioned in the Apple agreement.
What privacy clauses do you need to follow?
- Secondly, all personal and confidential data of the user must be processed in a secure manner, including using modern encryption methods, such as the HTTPS protocol. You must determine what data the application collects and how the data will be used.
The application must request and collect the data that is necessary for the work. For example, a geolocation service should not be used unless it is directly related to the features and services that the application provides.
For this reason, in 2019, Google Play blocked the Xiaomi Quick Apps due to the “surveillance” of users.
The program had expanded access to over 55 permissions that allow it to collect almost any data. The application had access to phone calls, IMEI numbers, SIM card numbers, details from operator towers, user accounts, and it could also record audio and video.
Computer security researchers indicated in the report that Xiaomi uses this data for targeted ads that can appear on the lock screen, news widget, browser and other places.
Also, in 2019, the ToTok application was accused of spying . The New York Times, citing sources in the US government, called the ToTok messenger “a spy tool launched by the UAE government.” ToTok has been successfully blocked from the App Store and Google Play.
Removing apps does not relieve you of your responsibility to maintain products
Google’s agreement does not release from its obligation to support applications or services that were previously purchased or downloaded by users in the event that such applications are removed.
And if the application was removed from Google Play due to a violation of the law, and the user purchased it within a year (or a longer period, if provided for by local consumer protection law) before the date of removal, upon Google’s request, the user must refund all paid amounts …
This topic can be developed further. Entrepreneurial users can additionally claim compensation for losses, for example, if the application was used in business activities and after the forced removal, business processes (meetings, sales, reminders, database, etc.) were disrupted.
The inadmissibility of “prohibited content” is one of the main points of the rules. It is forbidden to publish applications intended for children, but containing materials for adults. Also, applications that contain discriminatory statements, realistic images or detailed descriptions of violent actions, materials of a terrorist nature will be blocked.
As a result, knowing the rules and comparing them with content is a must. For example, there is a separate restriction on the sale of marijuana in the Google rules. If you can order marijuana or products containing THC using an application, even exclusively in a country where it is legal to sell it, the application containing such materials would violate the rules.
The restrictions apply to applications for some financial services. It is prohibited to publish applications that provide users with access to deceptive or harmful financial products and services, these may be:
- binary options;
- consumer loans and so on.
The above list of limitations is not exhaustive. Each application needs to be analyzed for compliance with the rules. It is imperative to take into account the specifics of each product.
It goes without saying that it is prohibited to infringe on intellectual property rights. These can be trademarks, copyright and related rights, patents, and so on. It is prohibited to encourage or facilitate violation of these rights. This ban applies to apps and accounts in general.
They violate the rules of an application whose names and logos are similar to the names and brands of other products or services to the extent of similarity: