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Google corrects unfortunate ‘Stalkerware’ typo allowing partner-tracking apps

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Google is correcting a “typo” in its Play Store “stalkerware” policy that currently suggests that apps can be used to track spouses. Stalkerware and other tracking software is dangerous, campaigners say, because it can facilitate domestic abuse and harassment of partners. As it’s written, the policy also mistakenly says parents cannot track their children.

The updated developer policy, which comes into effect on October 1st, now explicitly says that Play Store apps which allow parents to track their children are acceptable, but that they cannot be used to track adults (like a spouse) without their knowledge or permission.

Here’s the relevant section from the current developer policy which is due to be corrected (emphasis added):

Legitimate forms of these apps cannot be used by parents to track their children. However, these apps can be used to track a person (a spouse, for example) without their knowledge or permission unless a persistent notification is displayed while the data is being transmitted.

Here’s that same section in the new policy, which comes into effect on October 1st (again, emphasis added). Google has changed the wording from “legitimate” to “acceptable,” but more importantly it’s switched around which apps are allowed and which are forbidden.

Acceptable forms of these apps can be used by parents to track their children. However, these apps cannot be used to track a person (a spouse, for example) without their knowledge or permission unless a persistent notification is displayed while the data is being transmitted.

Outside of a couple of other minor wording changes, the rest of the Stalkerware policy appears to be more or less unchanged from August. Google’s rules state that apps cannot mislead users about their tracking functionality. Apps must “present users with a persistent notification and unique icon that clearly identifies the app” and they’re not allowed to hide tracking behavior. They also have to be explicitly designed and marketed as parental monitoring or enterprise management apps, rather than a “spying or secret surveillance solution.” Google has confirmed to The Verge that this persistent tracking notification must be displayed, even when an app is designed to allow parents to track their children.

Google’s rule clarification comes amidst a wider campaign to crack down on stalkerware. These apps that are frequently marketed as a way for jealous or suspicious partners to keep tabs on another, and are designed to trick users into believing they’re not being monitored, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The Coalition Against Stalkerware, which the EFF helped found last year, says that surveillance like this can facilitate “gender-based and domestic violence, harassment and sexual abuse.”

Back in July, Google announced a ban on advertising spyware or surveillance technology with a new ads policy which came into force on August 11th, although a TechCrunch report subsequently found ads for these apps after the ban came into effect.

Alongside yesterday’s typo correction, Google also updated its policies around misrepresentation and gambling apps. It has clarified that “coordinated activity that misrepresents or conceals the origin of an app or content” is a violation of its policies, and that a government-published gambling app is now allowed in Brazil. These policies will come into effect on October 21st.

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Charge Your Phone Wirelessly With 50% off a Multifunctional LED Lamp

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

White Wireless Charge Lamp | $18 | Amazon | Clip coupon + code ABC88699
Black Wireless Charger Lamp | $20 | Amazon | Promo code ABC88699

When you’re ready to turn in for the night, you don’t want to forget to charge your phone— especially if your mobile device doubles as your alarm clock.

With this wireless charger lamp, you can make this crucial step of your nightly routine even easier by just setting your phone on the wireless charging pad and… well, that’s all there is to it!

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Other functions include multiple lighting modes as well as a sleep timer option for auto shut-off of the light after 30 or 60 minutes.

This lamp can be yours in white for $18 if you clip the coupon on Amazon (it’s below the original $40 price) and add promo code ABC88699 at checkout.

You can snag the black version for $20 using the same code—no coupon though, sorry.

Don’t sleep on this deal! Who knows how long stock or the coupon code will last?

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Keep That Hotdish Hot With 65% Off a Luncia Casserole Carrier, Only $11 With Promo Code

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Luncia Double-Decker Dish Carrier | $11 | Amazon | Promo code SDDU9S7F

It has been a long time since the days we could safely have a potluck or other gatherings, but we have a fantastic deal perfect for once those times return. These double-decker Luncia dish carriers can be had for 65% off when you add promo code SDDU9S7F at checkout and clip the coupon on the site (it’s just below the price). These holders fit 9″x 13″ sized baking dishes.

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That means you can insulate and keep two dishes of food warm for only $11 instead of $30. What’s more, your Luncia carrier will arrive by Christmas if you order today as a Prime member.

Just add promo code SDDU9S7F and clip the 5% off coupon to bring the price down to $11 for the blue or the grey option.

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Grab this offer while it’s still around!


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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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