back to article Apple and Google, take note: Newly enacted EU law aims to protect developers from arbitrary decisions of tech giants

Have you found your apps suspended or removed from the Play Store or App Store for no apparent good reason? A new EU law that came into force this week may help. Passed in June 2019 and enacted at the weekend, regulation (EU) 2019/1150 is aimed at improving matters for developers suffering from seemingly arbitrary decisions by …

  1. gnasher729 Silver badge

    I don't know about Android, but on the App Store being removed from the store would be highly unusual. Not being accepted is not uncommon and usually sorted easily. Updates not being accepted is also not uncommon and usually sorted easily, and the previous version stays on the store. Being removed from the store would mean the app was reviewed, accepted, and later found to be unacceptable to Apple; that should be very rare.

    1. anothercynic Silver badge

      "Should be very rare" - Should be, but isn't. Hence people kicking up a fuss, and hence the EU taking action to force organisations to be clearer and give appropriate notice.

      1. FlaSheridn

        Happened to me

        Indeed, it happened to my little iOS app (http://pobox.com/~flash/EncycloClip), in violation of Apple’s stated App Review Guidelines, and I’m a former Apple employee.

        Complexities:

        • I did get about thirty days’ notice, and it seemed obvious that the rep just wanted me to re-post the app so that the mod time was updated (which I couldn’t do for unrelated reasons).

        • I had previously appealed successfully several times, even once through the official appeal process after a little chat with the executive who suggested a cartoonist “consider resubmitting” his rejected app after he won the Pulitzer prize.

  2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Computer says "no".

    Arguing over whether something should have been banned or pulled is one thing, having to comply with some diktat through gritted teeth is another.

    But it's something else to be banned, suspended or have an app pulled, while not being told why, no clue given as what needs to be changed, with no easy path to having that decision reviewed or rescinded.

    The only 'appeals process' these days seems to be to kick up a huge fuss on social media and hope that works.

    If companies won't do better of their own accord it's up to others to force them to do better. If it takes laws to create some modicum of 'due process' then so be it.

  3. iron Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Most of the stories I've read about apps that were removed from Google Play or the developer's account terminated apparently without good reason are untrue. There is usually a very obvious breaking of Google policy, often involving trademarks the dev doesn't own or releasing multiple copies of the same app with minimal changes. Cute graphics that appeal to children with content that is not allowed for children is another common issue. The devs rant and rave on Twitter or Reddit and say they were given no reason for removal. But, the reasons are both obvious and contained in the email Google sends them that they don't bother to read properly.

    I have no tolerance for such people. They make the rest of us look bad and increase review times for legitimate apps.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well let me tell you a story...

    Or several 10s of stories, we can tell them on a fairly regular basis if you really that interested....

    We do our utmost to abide by the rules, regs etc and most definately do not attempt any of the issues mentioned, yet we seem to get some notification or other about once per month concerning one app or another on the Android Store - usually with instant removal. 99.99% are complete nonsense - e.g. Google complaining their own adverts - from Admob - dont abide by their own rules. (Yes, we dare to have ad-funded apps because many many customers prefer that with the option to remove.) As for the info being clear, Im sorry but thats complete and utter b***ks, 'Your app has violated a policy" does not even come close to even referencing what policy let alone any clues as to where in the app.

    Absolutely yes, remove all the rubbish etc, the problem is many many legitimate developers get caught in the cross hairs of the so called 'AI' that simply scans a binary then generates a significant number of false positives which any human would spot a mile off. There is absolutely NO mechanism to get any clarity at all, if you are lucky the so called 'Appeals' people might send you back a canned message. Were no fans of Apple, but they are at least grown up in this area + are prepared to actually help identify and resolve the issue.

    At least with 30 days notice it gives developers half a chance to work out what the problem might be without the severe business interruption that occurs when apps are simply removed from the stores with zero notice.

    1. ratfox Silver badge

      Re: Well let me tell you a story...

      As mentioned by the article, apps are usually kicked out because the AI thought it was doing something illegal or dangerous. Of course it's often a false positive, but they are not going to wait to kick out illegal stuff.

  5. DJV Silver badge

    "We have asked Apple and Google how the legislation impacts their policies and will report back with any comment received."

    Cue tumbleweed from one side and a big heap of bovine excrement from the other.

  6. nematoad Silver badge
    WTF?

    Sigh.

    "We have asked Apple and Google how the legislation impacts their policies and will report back with any comment received."

    As far as I can see it will have no effect on devs in the UK. That is unless there is some obscure rule that says because it was passed during the transition period it will apply.

    God! The chickens are coming home to roost with a vengeance and I wonder how long it will be before the penny drop and the"man in the street" sees what a shit-fest this whole Brexit affair is.

    Yeah, this is really "Taking back control" and leaving many people swinging in the wind.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Sigh.

      If the implementation date is before 31st December, it will apply in the UK. And continue to apply until such time as the UK Parliament repeals it. I think it is very unlikely that they would repeal it any time soon as they have far more important things to focus on right now.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Sigh.

        Who's going to enforce it in the UK?

        1. DJV Silver badge

          Who's going to enforce it in the UK?

          Mrs Trellis of North Wales, who will be writing a letter to David Attenborough fully putting the blame on him for bringing the dinosaurs back in that documentary.

        2. katrinab Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: Sigh.

          Aggrieved parties would take Apple / Google to court for redress.

  7. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    We have asked Apple

    Hahahahahahahahahh!

    Gets back up off floor and checks calendar. Nope, still not April 1st. It's only March the 137th.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I would like to see that work with PayPal

    .. because that isn't just an island on its own, it has a amassed quite a reputation on the front of completely arbitrary decisions..

  9. PTW

    The output of the algorithm, it's not AI,

    should be shown on the developer's dashboard, there's zero excuse, and I don't buy the "it would allow bad guys to game the system", that's on par with "think of the children"

    I can't be dismissed without reason, or issued a fine or even penalty notice, without clear reason, with a clear an documented appeal process. Not "you broke 'a' rule"

    Apple and Google are obviously monopolies where their respective OSes are concerned and should be treated as such

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