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Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

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June 29, 2010

Who Owns Your Android Apps?

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

A while back I noted Apple's poor treatment of developers and paternalistic gated community approach to apps in its store as reasons I went for an Android phone. A legitimate question then arises: how does Android behave when it finds an app it doesn't like?

A post last week on the Android developers blog from Rich Cannings (Android Security Lead) gives a clue how they plan to operate: with more caution, in cooperation with developers, but still clearly in control. Like it or not, the Android is not a wide-open free-for-all space.

You can read the post yourself for details, but the gist is that they found two useless apps that were masquerading as something else. The developers then agreed to remove the apps from the Marketplace and Android exercised what it called a "remote application removal feature" to de-install any remaining copies of the apps from users' phones.

In this case the applications were free, so the people who had them removed were not out any money. I assume that Android would refund money spent for a pay app it removed in this way; regardless, though, the message is still clear: Android owns this environment.

Comments (6) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Markets and Monopolies


COMMENTS

1. Frank Ch. Eigler on June 29, 2010 9:39 AM writes...

These weren't just any two "useless apps". They were demonstrations of android security weaknesses.

http://blogs.forbes.com/firewall/2010/06/25/google-flips-kill-switch-deletes-and-downplays-botnet-demo-android-apps/

Permalink to Comment

2. Dan T. on June 29, 2010 1:25 PM writes...

I don't think anybody's really questioning that removal of these particular apps (as with any viruses / trojans / malware that may surface) is a good idea; however, the fact that it's now been demonstrated that a central authority can tamper with individuals' phones to remove things, people wonder what cans of worms might be getting opened, and whether this cure for malware may prove worse than the disease.

Permalink to Comment

3. DrWex on June 30, 2010 12:56 PM writes...

Yes, my point in making this post was along the lines that Dan T suggests. In particular I've read and spoken with people who seem to think that the Android is a wide-open free-for-all environment with no controls. While I still consider it a much more free environment than the iPhone I think it's noteworthy to examine how Android asserts its control over what you might think is "your" property.

Permalink to Comment

4. kdehairy on July 2, 2010 9:41 AM writes...

will .. I don't like that .. Do not enter my house without my permission claiming that It's for my own safety.
A warning is pretty enough .. The OWNER of the phone will see the warning and he can choose what to do. That is the way to do it .. as a matter of fact, that is the way to do anything at all on others phones.

Permalink to Comment

5. PJ on July 6, 2010 2:28 PM writes...

Do they have this power over apps installed from other sources? Is there a way for rooted phones to block this ability?

Permalink to Comment

6. DrWex on July 7, 2010 8:29 AM writes...

I do not think they can control your purchase of apps from third parties - in fact one of the things that differentiates Droid from iPhone is that Droid allows people to sell apps directly to you.

That said, I would guess that all apps use the same APIs and unless an app took steps to conceal itself from the OS it should be removable by the same tools.

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