Late on Thursday, the decision to remotely remove an app that violated the Android App Content Policy from all Android users phones was posted on the Android Developers Blog. According to the post, "remote application removal feature is one of many security controls Android possesses to help protect users from malicious applications. In case of an emergency, a dangerous application could be removed from active circulation in a rapid and scalable manner to prevent further exposure to users."
Also mentioned is why the decision to remove the app was made. According to the Android team, they recently:
...became aware of two free applications built by a security researcher for research purposes. These applications intentionally misrepresented their purpose in order to encourage user downloads, but they were not designed to be used maliciously, and did not have permission to access private data — or system resources beyond permission.INTERNET. As the applications were practically useless, most users uninstalled the applications shortly after downloading them.
After the researcher voluntarily removed these applications from Android Market, we decided, per the Android Market Terms of Service, to exercise our remote application removal feature on the remaining installed copies to complete the cleanup.
AndroidCentral wrote that "it's a testament to the platform and the developers that it doesn't often happen in this open community...Good on Google for not wielding this sword unnecessarily, and good on them for explaining to us why it was done."
Engadget noted that they "knew Google had the power to remotely remove Android apps -- Microsoft and Apple have backdoors into their mobile operating systems, too -- but it's always a little disconcerting to see a kill switch used."
As for me, I don't take too much issue with this development. If it states that they have that power in the Terms of Service, then who are you to argue about it if you areed? It might be more of an issue for me, except that they removed a "practically useless" app which broke the Terms of Service. If they remove other apps for unreasonably, then I'll start taking issue with it.
Phandroid adds that "we trust they won’t be messing up their reputation of being open and honest, so I’m sure no one has anything to worry about."
Image from Engadget