Even if its source code is freely available, and both the code and the app's activities have been inspected and audited before being submitted to F-Droid, Google keeps harassing the developer as it considers the app as "spyware", but it refuses to provide ANY details about their findings, or inform the developer on what they are supposed to change to get the app approved again. An appeal request from the developer only resulted in an automatic response from Google.
The developer was advised to appeal to the EU, but (maybe rightfully) he said "what's the point? it's going to take them five years anyway just to come with a decision, and in the meantime my app won't be distributed on the major Android channel, and I'll have no incentive to keep working on it". We, as open-source developers, should NOT end up in this situation. We should NOT have the feeling that the institutions are not protecting us because they're just too slow to intervene or even to understand an issue.
This isn't the first time that #Google harasses open-source developers and gets away with it. Email clients alternative to Gmail, as well as any app that accesses what Google deems "sensitive user data" (including emails, calendar, fit data etc.) will now require an expensive (talking of at least $4500 a year) and intentionally cumbersome certification process, and such a certification needs to be renewed on a yearly basis: http://www.pmail.com/newsflash.htm. This will mean the end for most of the alternative apps that support Google services.
This isn't about users' security. Most of these apps are open-source, owned by the community, and regularly audited by F-Droid - a store with far higher security standards than the Play Store.
This is just Google declaring their final war against those who dare to access their email, calendar or maps without using Google's apps. This is Google showing the middle finger to the world and saying "the only way to interact with your email and calendar must be through my apps".
More and more open-source developers are being so discouraged by Google's efforts, requests for money and the Kafkaesque labyrinth that they've set up for appeals that they are pulling their apps and services for good.
This shouldn't happen, and the EU has a duty to defend us against this evil corp, because we can't keep defending ourselves. Enough with all the talk about new EU unicorns: if the EU really wants to battle Google, they should do so by defending an enthusiastic community that is already building the alternatives - often without being paid a single dime, while being regularly harassed by big tech.
@blacklight Apart from the issues with the project itself, it _surely_ would be important to regulate providers such as Google, Apple, ... currently being the exclusive gatekeepers of who's able to provide software to "their"(???) devices. The idea that every independent software vendor is at the mercy of Apple or Google when providing software for iOS or Android devices seems a rather ... difficult situation from a monopoly and competitive perspective. 😐
@EU_Commission @eff @ombudsman
Take F-Droid for example (an alternative store). In order to submit an app to their store, its source code must be freely available, they would then run a bunch of inspectors on it (including static code analysis and running the app in a sandbox to check which services it connects to), and in case of something that doesn't comply with their rules they tell you exactly what you're supposed to change.
If Google was so transparent, the Play Store wouldn't be such a huge issue. Instead, they don't give you many details on why an app doesn't comply to their rules, they don't give you many actionable points, they are a faceless corporation by design, and when you appeal their decisions or ask for clarification you get an automated answer.
There's nothing intrinsically wrong with being the largest player in a market, but with great powers come great responsibilities. If they can't commit to their duties, then they don't deserve to be the largest player anymore, and the EU should bash them hard until either they learn the lesson, or they stop being the biggest player.
@BinaryWolf the problem in this case (and in other FOSS apps) is that Google's decision also affects non-Google users.
Personally, I haven't used Gmail in years. But Google's decision to take down FairEmail without reason from the main distribution channel on Android has result in FairEmail being killed. This also affects people like me who don't use Gmail and even use an un-googled version of Android.
Eventually, developers want to maximize their reach. And if you take their apps down from the distribution channel that is used by 99% of the people, then fewer and fewer developers will be incentivized to develop apps that Google may see as potential competitors - and that's exactly what they want to achieve.
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