Google removes several people-tracking apps from Play Store

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Location tracking is nothing new when it comes to mobile apps, with many of them requiring that information in order to better deliver services. Some apps, however, are not playing by the rules, with Google pulling several ones that feature “stalkerware” from the Play Store.

This according to CNET, with the site reporting on the removal following a number of applications that were discovered by cybersecurity software provider Avast.

More specifically the firm found out that, if a would-be stalker found a target’s address and mobile device, they could remotely install a tracking app to collect sensitive data. These include location data, texts, calls, and may even allow the stalkers to hide any incriminating evidence they may possess.

One such app was called Spy Tracker, with CNET noting that it could allow users to stalk a romantic interest without their knowledge, with it having 130 000 downloads at the time of writing.

When pressed for comment, Google told Engadget that all the nefarious people-tracking apps had been removed from the Play Store, but did not mention how many apps have been removed following the Avast report, or indeed what would happen to developers or users of the applications.

The aforementioned Avast report does, however, list the following apps, but it’s still unclear if these are the only ones that infringe Google’s Play Store rules on tracking.

  • Track Employees Check Work Phone Online Spy Free
  • Spy Kids Tracker
  • Phone Cell Tracker
  • Mobile Tracking
  • Spy Tracker
  • SMS Tracker
  • Employee Work Spy

Needless to say, this latest development is further proof that a thorough inspection of an app’s terms of use is needed before downloading and installing.

[Image – Photo by NESA by Makers on Unsplash]

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.