Social Media Pressure Forces Google To Restore Deleted Cyber Security App

On 17th October 2015, a generous man uploaded an application on Google Play Store named “Cybrary”. The application was meant for people who have unreliable internet connections. The intentions behind this application were to start a free cyber security education portal through the application so that people may use these lessons and learn cyber security while having an unstable internet connection.

As told above, the application was uploaded on 17th October 2015 on Google play store, it was reviewed by Google and was approved and within a month it had about 50,000 active users but on 25th November 2015, the app was removed from the Google market. The application was updated by the developer on 18th, Nov and was subsequently removed by Google stating,

“This application violates section 4.4 of the (DDA) Developer Distribution Agreement.”

The developer tried to contact Google and tried to figure out the reason for the removal of the application, but Google refused to talk to them and always responded with one answer, i.e.“This application violates section 4.4 of the (DDA).” The developers repeatedly did all that they could to talk to Google representative, but all in vain and finally Google removed the app under the Section 4.4 of DDA.

Developers of Cybrary explored and studied Section 4.4 to ascertain whether this clause really had something against cyber security education and found out that:

The Developer Distribution Agreement states: “You agree that you will not engage in any activity with the Store, including the development or distribution of Products, that interferes with, disrupts, damages, or accesses in an unauthorized manner the devices, servers, networks, or other properties or services of any third party including, but not limited to, Android users, Google or any mobile network operator.”

Screenshot of “Cybrary” cyber security app / Image Source: Google Play Store
Screenshot of “Cybrary” cyber security app / Image Source: Google Play Store

“You may not use customer information obtained from the Store to sell or distribute Products outside of the Store.Your app and/or elements of its listing on Google Play, including title, description, and promotional screenshots. Your app and/or elements of its listing on Google Play, including title, description, and promotional screenshots provide/links to specific instructions used to circumvent software/hardware mechanics.”

 

All these clauses and policies by Google were only against hacking or other cyber crimes and the developers could think Of no reason other than Google must be against cyber security education. After seeing sheer ignorance from Google, the developers just wrote a blog post on 25th November 2015 against the removal of  Cybrary and requested Android users  share it on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit etc. and requested for people to write an email to Google Developer support as their supporters and started a hashtag #censorship on Twitter to raise their voice.

The Cybrarians as per the developer’s expectations emailed Google team, shared and retweeted the article on Facebook and Twitter respectively and did make difference as Google finally replied to the developer saying “We will reinstate the Cybrary app, in its full state after you (the developer) describe the app to best express its educational intent and how it is to be used for ethical cybersecurity purposes.“ As told above, the intentions were to educate people in the field of cyber security so the developers without any hesitation changed the description to comply.

Uzair Amir

I am an Electronic Engineer, an Android Game Developer and a Tech writer. I am into music, snooker and my life motto is 'Do my best, so that I can't blame myself for anything.'