TLDR; As formerly announced and directly conveyed to developers via email, we are going to be removing programs from the Google Play Store that ask for SMS or Call Log consent and haven’t submitted a Permissions Declaration Form. If you haven’t submitted a permissions announcement form along with your program is removed, see below for next steps.

Next measures

We take access to permissions and sensitive data very seriously. This is especially true with Call and SMS Log permissions, which were designed to permit users to select messaging program or their preferred dialer, but also have been used to empower a number of other experiences that may not require that same level of accessibility. In a bid to improve users’ control over their data, last October we declared we’d be restricting developer access to SMS and Phone Log permissions.

Maintaining our Android ecosystem that is overall healthy is important, and protection of user information is essential to the long term wellbeing of developers. We all know these changes have required considerable work out of you and we appreciate your attempts while protecting user’s privacy, to create innovative experiences.

Each submission is carefully reviewed by our global teams. Throughout the review process, we consider the following:

  • Likelihood that an ordinary user would understand why this kind of program needs full access to the information.
  • User benefit of this attribute.
  • Importance of the consent relative to the center functionality of this app.
  • Risks presented by all apps for this use case having access to this sensitive information.
  • Availability of more narrow alternatives for enabling the attribute.

Tens of thousands of developers have resubmitted their programs to support the new policy or have submitted a form. Thank you! Obtained a compliance extension.

Developers whose apps used these permissions prior to our statement were notified by email and given 90 days to either remove the permissions, or submit a permissions statement form to empower further review.

This inspection process is taken by us seriously and understand it is a change for developers. We use the same criteria including dozens of apps that are Google. We added into the list of accepted use cases over the past couple of months as we evaluated feedback.

With this change, some uses cases will no longer be permitted. However, lots of the programs we reviewed with these permissions can rely on thinner APIs, cutting back the reach of accessibility while accomplishing similar performance. By way of example, programmers using SMS because of verification can rather use the SMS Retriever API, and apps that want to discuss content using SMS may prepopulate a message and trigger the default SMS program to display via intents.

More about app reviews

Our new policy was made to ensure that apps requesting these permissions require full and continuing access to this sensitive information in order to accomplish the app’s primary use case, and that users will understand why this data will be necessary for the program to function.

Over the next few weeks, we will be removing apps from the Play Store that ask for SMS or Telephone Log permission and haven’t filed a permission announcement form. If your program is removed and you would like to get it republished, you can do one of the following from the Play Console:

  • submit a new version without these permissions, or
  • submit a new version of your app that keeps the permissions. Doing so will ask you to finish a permissions announcement form within the Play Console (coming shortly ) and will give you an extension till March 9th to remove the permissions or get approval for your use case.