Google explains removal of 'Mitron', 'Remove China Apps' from Play Store

Topics Coronavirus | Google | Google apps

The anti-China sentiment has been a recurring theme in India, and apps and technology-related products are often the first casualty
Clarifying some recent decisions to suspend apps from its Play Store, a Google executive said on Thursday that the apps violated technical policies. 

On Tuesday, Google Play Store took down Mitron, an app that garnered over five million downloads for advertising itself as an alternative to China-based TikTok. The nest day, the Play Store took down "Remove China Apps," an app that searched through China-based apps on a user's phone and helped them uninstall them. 

Both the app suspensions came under criticism from some quarters. 

Explaining the rationale for the suspension of 'Remove China Apps', Sameer Samat, Vice President, Android and Google Play, said in a blog post on Thursday, "We also recently suspended a number of apps for violating the policy that we don't allow an app that 'encourages or incentivizes users into removing or disabling third-party apps or modifying device settings or features unless it is part of a verifiable security service'. This is a long-standing rule designed to ensure a healthy, competitive environment where developers can succeed based upon design and innovation. When apps are allowed to specifically target other apps, it can lead to behaviour that we believe is not in the best interest of our community of developers and consumers."


The anti-China sentiment has been a recurring theme in India, and apps and technology-related products are often the first casualty. TikTok, with its over 200 million strong user base in India, has been the target of many uninstall campaigns over the past year. 

While there has been no official word from India against China on the being the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been rising anti-China sentiment on social media since the past couple of months. Also, with the current standoff between India and China at the border, a new wave of rage against Chinese products has been rising. 

The Google Play Store has a "Spam and Minimum Functionality Policy" and can take down apps, among other things, for repetitive content. Examples of violations include "Copying content from other apps without adding any original content or value" and "Creating multiple apps with highly similar functionality, content, and user experience".

Referring to Mitron as a video app that was taken down earlier this week, Samat said, "We have an established process of working with developers to help them fix issues and resubmit their apps.  We’ve given this developer some guidance and once they’ve addressed the issue the app can go back up on Play."

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