Developer Patrick Godeau has claimed his business is under threat after his Google Play Publisher account was terminated without a specific reason given.
Godeau, from France, provides apps for iOS and Android via his company Tokata.
It is a small business but Godeau said in his complaint that he has achieved “millions of downloads”, most via the Play Store.
On 31 July, Godeau received an email stating that “your Google Play Publisher account has been terminated”. He appealed and was told that “we’re unable to reinstate your developer account”. The reason given was not specific, just that it was “due to multiple violations of the Developer Program Policies”.
In July 2018, Google removed another of his applications specifying “device and network abuse”. He never discovered what the issue was. Maybe he was using the YouTube API wrongly? “Having read though the API terms of service, I couldn’t deduce how my app infringed them,” he said. However, he was able to publish a new version.
The new issue is not so easily resolved. First one of his apps was suspended for what the Play team said is “malicious behaviour”. Shortly after, his entire account was terminated complete with the advice “please do not attempt to register a new developer account”.
The apps remain available on the Apple and Amazon app stores.
Godeau said he has no objection to Google’s efforts to remove malicious apps from the Play Store. His frustration is that he has not been told any specifics about what is wrong with his apps, and that there is no meaningful dialogue with the Play team or appeal against a decision that directly impacts his ability to make a living from software development.
“It seems that I’m not the only one in this situation,” he wrote. “Many Android developers have seen their apps removed and their accounts abruptly terminated by the Google Play bots, often for minor and unintentional reasons, or even for no known reason at all, and almost always without any opportunity to prove their good faith, receiving no other response than automatic messages.”
This kind of incident is apparently not uncommon. Another company, Guidebook, which develops apps for events, has also had its apps removed, leaving users taking to Twitter to ask where they are. Guidebook’s Twitter support says “we’re actively working with Google to rectify this.”
Another common complaint is that Google does too little to remove pirated or copycat applications from the Play Store, causing potential reputational problems for developers whose customers may get an ad-laden copy instead of the real thing, or simply loss of business to the pirates.
And this is one of the problems when you’re working with an unregulated massive monopoly who can basically dictate whatever arbritrary terms they like, whilst people’s incomes are suffering from them.
They need to be broken up!
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