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posted by martyb on Friday September 19 2014, @04:22PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the where-you-at? dept.

The Developer Console for the Google Play Store has a notification that from the 30th September, all listing will require a physical address to be shown on the app details page. The notification states:

Add a physical contact address Beginning September 30, 2014, you need to add a physical address to your Settings page. After you've added an address, it will be available on your app's detail page to all users on Google Play. If your physical address changes, make sure to update your information on your Settings page.

If you have paid apps or apps with in-app purchases, it's mandatory to provide a physical address where you can be contacted, as you are the seller of that content, to comply with with consumer protection laws. If you don't provide a physical address on your account, it may result in your apps being removed from the Play Store.

Thus far there have been no explanation for the requirement, with some speculation that it may be to satisfy a legal requirement for merchants to provide a physical address, with some concerned about how it could impact independent developers.

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  • (Score: 5, Funny) by GlennC on Friday September 19 2014, @04:38PM

    by GlennC (3656) on Friday September 19 2014, @04:38PM (#95549)

    1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
    Washington, DC 20500

    9800 Savage Road
    Fort Meade, MD 20755

    1060 West Addison Street
    Chicago, IL 60613

    P.O. Box 350
    Boston, MA 02134

    --
    Sorry folks...the world is bigger and more varied than you want it to be. Deal with it.
    • (Score: 2) by dublet on Friday September 19 2014, @04:58PM

      by dublet (2994) on Friday September 19 2014, @04:58PM (#95558)

      Belgrave House
      76 Buckingham Palace Rd
      London
      SW1W 9TQ
      United Kingdom

      123 Buckingham Palace Road
      London
      SW1W 9SH
      United Kingdom

      1-13 St Giles High Street
      London
      WC2H 8AG
      United Kingdom

      Peter House
      Oxford Street
      Manchester
      M1 5AN

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 19 2014, @04:39PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 19 2014, @04:39PM (#95552)

    And how many are minors?

    Of course if you are really doing well then I guess you can incorporate and give the office address or that of the lawyer or accountant.

    So, are Google lawyers seeking to make themselves and their competition more money or is the IRS etc being a PITA?

    Wonder how many apps are written to launder money?

    This could get interesting.

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by _NSAKEY on Friday September 19 2014, @05:02PM

      by _NSAKEY (16) on Friday September 19 2014, @05:02PM (#95563)

      If you're going to incorporate, another option is a private mailbox (NOT a post office box) from someone like UPS. Those addresses are good enough to be filled in on incorporation paperwork, so it should also be good enough for someone like Google.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by MrGuy on Friday September 19 2014, @05:06PM

      by MrGuy (1007) on Friday September 19 2014, @05:06PM (#95567)

      Money laundering? The IRS? It's quite a leap to get them into this discussion, especially when it seems like the stated purpose (consumer protection laws) seems like a reasonable explanation for the change.

      The US is a patchwork of jurisdictions, but I'm aware of at least some states where this is indeed the case (if you sell online to residents of that state, you need to have a physical address on file at which you can be contacted in the event of a dispute). In other words, you need to be contactable by more than an e-mail address.

      Here's where I suspect (especially given the wording) this is coming from (IANAL). Note the following language: "If you have paid apps or apps with in-app purchases...you are the seller of that content..." (emphasis mine)

      What I suspect is that Google is trying to do is disclaim any ownership of the in-app transaction. Probably because they want to shield themselves from having GOOGLE get sued if someone's kid purchases $6,000 worth of shiny beads. So, they're taking the position that "Oh, we're not selling that in-app purchase. The DEVELOPER is!" If someone complains to the state department of consumer protection about an in-app purchase, Google wants to have a plausible "it's not us you want" defense. "No, no, we weren't the seller! We're just the compensated transaction processor."

      They probably need to do something like that, because Google is the one who actually takes the money. The consumer could claim "I have a transaction with Google, and Google's settling up with their developer is none of my business." In that case, the consumer can take up a dispute with Google. Google wants to claim that, like a bank processing a credit card transaction, they're not the owner of the transaction.

      For that to be true, Google is making sure that their app developers with in-app purchase capability are complying with state consumer protection laws. They want to show "We do everything we can to ensure the developers using our channel comply with state consumer protection laws."

      I suspect their legal team looked at some state laws and, where the developer had no contact address, Google was either actually or at least potentially on the hook for a lawsuit. So they're cleaning it up. Look for a similar change to their terms of service (if it's not already there) requiring Google Play developers to acknowledge THEY are the sellers, not Google, for in-app purchases - if it's not there now, it's clearly coming.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 19 2014, @05:47PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 19 2014, @05:47PM (#95577)

        This. Google just wants someone else to be responsible for in app purchases. They just paid out a bundle* [computerworld.com] on this because it was easier than trying to track down the app makers responsible. This makes it easier for them to point at the app developer and say "talk to so and so".

        * although to Google bundle may be more like a pittance, still real money though...

        • (Score: 2, Interesting) by TheB on Friday September 19 2014, @08:07PM

          by TheB (1538) on Friday September 19 2014, @08:07PM (#95632)

          ^^^ Mod AC parent up. I would, but Soylent only gives me modpoints once a month at most.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by frojack on Friday September 19 2014, @06:04PM

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Friday September 19 2014, @06:04PM (#95579) Journal

        I suspect their legal team looked at some state laws and, where the developer had no contact address, Google was either actually or at least potentially on the hook for a lawsuit.

        I doubt the Google lawyers got bored an started reading state laws.

        I suspect this fell out of a court case somewhere, which Google probably quietly settled, but now realizes that they have a huge exposure not only in specific states, but also inter-state (meaning Federal jurisdiction) as well as Internationally.

        Its not an unreasonable requirement and will lead to (at least the appearance of) more protection for consumers.

        As someone who paid for an app that didn't work for more than a month, and who couldn't contract the developer I can see this as a good idea.

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Friday September 19 2014, @08:22PM

        by Thexalon (636) on Friday September 19 2014, @08:22PM (#95641)

        Put me in the "Not a big deal" category: If you're a business, you're eventually going to have some sort of address registered with *somebody*. If it's one guy working out of his house, that address might be his house, but some of the other entities that probably already have that address for that business include:
        - Any banks the business has accounts with
        - The IRS
        - Whatever state they're in, if incorporated in any way (including LLCs)
        - Any company that sells to that business
        - Any customer that you have to bill or invoice
        - The DNS registrar, and (depending on TLD and jurisdiction) the WHOIS entry.

        Now, I understand some people don't like being identified, ever, but if you're going to be taking money from somebody, it's important to know enough about who you are (and an email address is far to ephemeral) so you can be held responsible if you don't deliver on your promises. And as another poster pointed out, if you're trying to avoid giving out your home address, pay for a box at UPS or something and use that.

        --
        Alcohol makes the world go round ... and round and round.
        • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 20 2014, @07:36AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 20 2014, @07:36AM (#95783)

          The issue that I have is not so much that you have to leave the address, but that it is viewable by everyone. That opens up a big abuse potential. Yes, if you have a valid complaint with an app, there probably should be a way to get the contact data from Google. But having it available to everyone without restrictions is a really bad idea.

          • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Sunday September 21 2014, @02:18AM

            by kaszz (4211) on Sunday September 21 2014, @02:18AM (#96115) Journal

            For a precedent on this mess. I encourage everyone to look at the DNS "contact details".

            In other words, this ain't viable. It will crash in contact with reality..

            Btw, you can always contact me at:
            Drug house
            123 Inhalation street
            Crocktown
            FD5Y 2KJ
            Neverland

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 20 2014, @07:31AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 20 2014, @07:31AM (#95782)

        If it is not Google who sells the app, then how is it justified they get a share of the sales money? They offer that stuff on the web page, they process the payment, so they are the seller. Simple as that.

        And if it is really a legal requirement that the physical address is given, I'm sure it would be sufficient if it would only be accessible after a formal request to Google. After all, if you really have a case, that should not be much hassle; OTOH the fact that you'd explicitly have to contact Google (and therefore there would exist an explicit record that you requested that address) should vastly reduce the probability of misuse of that data.

  • (Score: 2) by RaffArundel on Friday September 19 2014, @05:04PM

    by RaffArundel (3108) on Friday September 19 2014, @05:04PM (#95566) Homepage

    So, the summary includes

    with some speculation that it may be to satisfy a legal requirement

    when just above it Google specifically says

    to comply with with consumer protection laws.

    Is there a particular reason we should believe there is something else going on?

    I'm more interested in why this would be impacting indies (who take customers' money, there is no requirement that your free app do this) since they have already set up whatever payment mechanism as part of their business, so this simply one more step. Basically, if you are going to sell on Google Play regardless who you are, you need at least a PO Box - I'm wondering why this is burden.

    As a slight tangent: since I keep my phones around for years, are there any devices locked to Google Play? I figure if I wanted something that was locked out of the Play Store, and I actually trusted someone that wanted my money but no way to physically locate them, then I would find it elsewhere. Anyone around here actually impacted by this because they sell an app on the Play Store care to chime in?

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by MrGuy on Friday September 19 2014, @05:14PM

      by MrGuy (1007) on Friday September 19 2014, @05:14PM (#95570)

      TFA is one guy who took a screenshot of the change to Google's policy, and complained about it on his GooglePlus page. Followed by a bunch of people commenting on why they think it either sucks or isn't a big deal.

      I think the more interesting story is someone posting something on GooglePlus, and other people actually reading something on GooglePlus and leaving comments. I mean, who uses GooglePlus?

      • (Score: 2) by Hairyfeet on Friday September 19 2014, @08:14PM

        by Hairyfeet (75) <reversethis-{moc ... {8691tsaebssab}> on Friday September 19 2014, @08:14PM (#95636) Journal

        Finland and Denmark apparently, as I talk to posters who live over there and they say its really popular there. I guess that "popular in Japan" "Germans love David Hasselhoff" meme applies to software as well because when I ask 'em why they just say "I dunno we just really like it". Then again that IS the region that gave us lutefisk so their taste is seriously suspect anyway.

        --
        ACs are never seen so don't bother. Always ready to show SJWs for the racists they are.
    • (Score: 2) by lhsi on Friday September 19 2014, @06:44PM

      by lhsi (711) on Friday September 19 2014, @06:44PM (#95586) Journal

      I'm more interested in why this would be impacting indies (who take customers' money, there is no requirement that your free app do this) since they have already set up whatever payment mechanism as part of their business, so this simply one more step. Basically, if you are going to sell on Google Play regardless who you are, you need at least a PO Box - I'm wondering why this is burden.

      For really small developers (including hobbyists), where Google Play is not the main source of income (or not used for income at all), the address given could end up being a home address (depending on how accurately this is enforced).

      • (Score: 2) by Foobar Bazbot on Saturday September 20 2014, @12:44AM

        by Foobar Bazbot (37) on Saturday September 20 2014, @12:44AM (#95711) Journal

        If it's not used for income, it doesn't seem like it would affect them at all, since it only applies to those who "have paid apps or apps with in-app purchases".

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by Jaruzel on Friday September 19 2014, @05:11PM

    by Jaruzel (812) on Friday September 19 2014, @05:11PM (#95568) Homepage Journal

    In Germany, it is illegal to try and sell something without an Impressum [wikipedia.org].
    This must include contact details including an address. All compliant german web-shops have to have an impressum page to be legal. I'm sure other countries also have this requirement.

    Basically, if I'm paying you for something, I'd want to know who to complain to if something went wrong. I don't see a problem with this change by Google - as it IS only for non-free apps (or apps with in-built payments).

    -Jar

    --
    This is my opinion, there are many others, but this one is mine.
  • (Score: 2) by Alfred on Friday September 19 2014, @09:02PM

    by Alfred (4006) on Friday September 19 2014, @09:02PM (#95660) Journal
    Can you use a PO Box? I wouldn't want angry people showing up at my door if I developing in my bedroom.
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by larku on Saturday September 20 2014, @02:35AM

    by larku (4429) on Saturday September 20 2014, @02:35AM (#95738)

    Says the multi billion dollar company that can't even be contacted.

    Sheesh.

    • (Score: 1) by art guerrilla on Saturday September 20 2014, @09:56AM

      by art guerrilla (3082) on Saturday September 20 2014, @09:56AM (#95802)

      yes, a very annoying situation...
      i had an issue i was going to contact them about (google crapps on the phone i can't delete), and was surprised that a 'chat' thing was available with an apparent human bean... when i talked to the droid, they confirmed that, 'no, it wasn't really my phone, it was THEIR phone to do with what they please, to install/uninstall crapps as they saw fit, and i could go piss up a rope...'
      no, of course the droid didn't say THAT little nugget of too-much-truth, but that was effectively what his message was:
      all your phone are belong to us...
      *as if* i hadn't paid that $150 for the phone, mistakenly thinking that made it 'mine'...
      what a fool i am...
      about to abandon any/all google crapp simply for the inability of contacting them over just about ANYTHING...
      cyanogenmod, here i come...

      • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Sunday September 21 2014, @02:26AM

        by kaszz (4211) on Sunday September 21 2014, @02:26AM (#96119) Journal

        Try the Replicant OS [wikipedia.org] get out of the do no evil empire completely.

        You pay for the hardware that comes with google-pw0n3d by default. Then it's up to the consumer to root one's own device to get real control over it. A really fucked up business practice.