Google removes some personal loan apps from Store, warns others

 thehindu.com  01/14/2021 09:41:39 

Google on Thursday said it had removed some personal loan apps from its application store after reviewing hundreds of such apps for violation of user safety policies.

The move follows reports over many such applications, who are not authorised lenders, targeting vulnerable borrowers to offer loans at very high interest rates and then using extreme measures for recovery of money.

We have reviewed hundreds of personal loan apps in India, based on flags submitted by users and government agencies. The apps that were found to violate our user safety policies were immediately removed from the Store, and we have asked the developers of the remaining identified apps to demonstrate that they comply with applicable local laws and regulations, Suzanne Frey, vice-president, Product, Android Security and Privacy, said in a blog post.

She added that the apps that failed to do so would be removed without further notice. Google, she said, would continue to assist the law enforcement agencies in their investigation of this issue.

Personal loan apps have received attention recently, and we wanted to clarify the action we have taken on these apps on Google Play, she said.

Ms. Frey pointed out that all developers in the Play Store agreed to the terms of the Google Play Developer Distribution Agreement, which stipulated that apps must adhere to applicable rules and laws, including generally accepted practices and guidelines. The Google Play Developer Policy required financial services apps that offered personal loans to disclose key information such as the minimum and maximum periods of repayment, the maximum Annual Percentage Rate, and a representative example of the total loan cost, she said.

To help further ensure that users are making sound choices, we only allow personal loan apps with full repayment required in greater than or equal to 60 days from the date the loan is issued, she said.

On protecting user privacy, Ms. Frey said developers must only request permissions that were necessary to implement current features or services. They should not use permissions that gave access to user or device data for undisclosed, unimplemented, or disallowed features or purposes.

Developers must also only use data for purposes that the user has consented to, and if they later want to use the data for other purposes, they must obtain user permission for the additional uses, she said.

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