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Google Removes Famous Apps Including Selfie Camera For Secretly Clicking Ads

Google found these apps guilty of drawing ad clicks and even when they were not running in the background, which also led to more battery and internet data consumption.


Taking action against fraud mobile application, Google has recently removed six apps including Selfie Camera, which was one of the most downloaded apps. According to reports, Google found these apps guilty of drawing ad clicks and even when they were not running in the background, which also led to more battery and internet data consumption. Some of the recently removed apps belong to popular Chinese developer DU Groups.

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If anything to go by BuzzFeed reports, the fraudulent DU Group apps were identified following a list of almost 5,000 famous mobile apps was collected from Google Play, and their information like developer name and number of installs was collated. These apps were then sifted through and the potentially dangerous ones were handed over to researchers and security firms for analysis. 29 Malicious Photo Editing App Banned From Play Store – Full List

After extensive research, Google found that these apps ask for unnecessary permissions and commit ad frauds using these extra permissions.

During the research and analysis process, they have found that they indulge in unethical practices or have been downloaded by 90 million people across the world. For the uninitiated, DU Group is a Chinese app developing company that was spun off from mega search giant Baidu and claims to have 1 billion users worldwide.

During the analysis process, Google’s cyber-security company somehow discovered that popular Selfie Camera app which has been installed over 50 million contains code allowing users to automatically click on advertisements without the user’s knowledge or consent. Notably, these ads were served by Google’s AdMob and Twitter’s MoPub platforms.

Here are names of apps which include Omni Cleaner, RAM Master, Smart Cooler, Total Cleaner and AIO Flashlight, and Selfie Camera. These fraud apps were listed by a fake developer named Pic Tools Group. Google confirmed to the publication that it removed six DU apps from Google Play, but hasn’t detailed on how it will address the Play Store policy abuse issue at large.

Another notable app in the list was Samsung TV Remote Control, developed by US-based Peel Technologies, which asked for 58 permissions of which 23 were found to be in the dangerous category. The app is said to be part of a family of the TV remote control apps from the company, all covered by a single privacy policy that says “the app collects detailed information about the ‘content you consume (validated by audio content recognition).’ This suggests the app accesses the microphone to record audio while you use it. It also collects information on your location, IP address, device, and behaviour when you use the app,” the report added

Reacting to the report, Peel said its apps do not perform audio content recognition, though the report notes Peel “did not respond to a follow-up question about why that feature is cited in its privacy policy. It also said it only shares ‘Non-Personally Identifiable Location data for a fraction of our users’ with third parties.

Also Read: Fake Antivirus Apps Flooding Google Play Store, Find Which One Really Works – Report

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