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Google Forced to Remove 'Stalker' Apps From Google Play Store

mobile, malware
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

A host of apps charged with "stalking" users has been removed from the Google Play marketplace, according to a new report.

Security firm Avast previously reported on seven apps that it says, were tracking users without their knowledge on Android. The apps, including a child-tracking program called Spy Tracker, and another for companies to see whether employees were working, called Employee Work Spy, would allow parents, employers, or anyone else who employed them to see what their subjects were doing without their knowledge.

“These apps are highly unethical and problematic for people’s privacy and shouldn’t be on the Google Play Store, as they promote criminal behavior, and can be abused by employers, stalkers or abusive partners to spy on their victims," Nikolaos Chrysaidos, Avast's mobile threat intelligence and security chief, said in a statement. Tech Radar which earlier reported on the removal.

Avast said that it uses its mobile threat detection software to identify the apps and discovered that they had been collectively installed 130,000 times. All of the apps were made by the same developer and pitched themselves as innocuous parental control apps or ways for companies to monitor their people. 

Avast, however, was concerned that the apps were far more worrisome than they'd have users believe. Apparently, Google agreed, as the apps have been removed from Google Play and are no longer turning up in searches in the store. According to Avast, Google removed them this week after being alerted to their features by the security company.

It's unclear whether the apps will make a comeback in a different form at some point in the future.