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Google forces indie app devs to make home addresses public

James Temperton
23 Sep 2014
Google Play store
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Anyone selling an app on Google Play will need to list their postal address, with indie developers raising privacy concerns

Thousands of indie developers on the Google Play store will soon have to make their home addresses public after Google confirmed plans to improve contact details for apps.

The move is in response to new EU laws that require all online retailers to make contact details easier to find. Anyone who sells a paid app or one with in-app purchases will be required to provide a contact address, Google said.

The new EU laws apply to anyone selling any products online within the EU, including business based elsewhere such as the US, China or Hong Kong. The law is intended to make it easier for people to contact sellers on sites such as eBay when there is a problem with their purchase.

But the new law also applies to Google Play, raising privacy concerns for developers who make apps at home. Indie developers and hobbyists who sell apps on Google Play are worried that by listing their home addresses they risk being inundated with "flame mail, threats and spam", according to posts on Reddit.

App developers complained that Google provided "little to no information" about the changes, which come into force on 30 September. The company confirmed that that all app developers who sold apps on Google Play would have to list a postal address.

"As of September 30, it is mandatory to provide a physical address for paid apps and apps that enable in-app purchases on Google Play, in accordance with consumer protection laws and current best-practices. The address will be displayed in the app store listing page, ensuring a more transparent and positive experience for users," a Google spokesperson said.

Concerned app developers have contacted Google to ask if they could use PO Box addresses instead but the company has refused to comment. When we asked Google if PO Box addresses would be allowed a representative did not respond.

The changes to EU law don't affect people and companies that sell apps through the Apple App Store of Microsoft Windows Store as both companies act as intermediaries between seller and buyer. In these instances a buyer will need to contact Apple or Microsoft.

Online auction site eBay, which is a clear target of the new EU law, has provided clear and in-depth information on how it applies to people who buy and sell items. In a Q&A eBay explained that only sellers who "act as a business" would need to provide contact information.

According to eBay business sellers typically buy goods to resell them on eBay, sell good which they have manufactured, sell large quantities and sell identical items for long periods of time. These eBay sellers will be required to list the company name, geographic address (now PO Box addresses are allowed), email address, telephone and fax numbers and other contact and company details.

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