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Google prohibits the recording of conversations

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Gaston de Persigny
Gaston de Persigny
Gaston de Persigny - Reporter at The European Times News

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Only the built-in Android feature will be eligible for this action

Google is preparing to change the rules for mobile applications in the Android online store. Starting next month, applications will be virtually banned from recording phone calls, CNET reports.

The reason is abuse of rules and available features, the company explains. Official recording of telephone conversations is not allowed, but not prohibited, notes Ars technica.

Many applications use the accessibility software package, which offers many specialized features. Among them is the ability to record voice calls.

This feature is used by third-party applications, and Google commented to CNET that this is not correct. The company argues that the feature is designed to help people with disabilities use devices and software, rather than recording conversations.

The ban comes into force on May 11 this year. It makes call recording applications virtually unacceptable to the Google Play Store. Users will be able to install ones from external sources, but they will need to use their own software.

Ars Technica notes that Google’s official call recording application remains, as well as the functionality itself in the company’s Pixel smartphones in countries where this is allowed. There are many countries where recordings are allowed as long as both parties are informed, and many applications give a clear signal for the beginning and end of the recording.

Google has previously restricted accessibility features and what they can be used for. The company seems to be most concerned about setting precedents for these technologies to be used for various activities to help people with disabilities.

The European Union has adopted new rules for IT giants. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has described the newly adopted Digital Services Act as “historic”, CNBC reports.

The law has been agreed between the member states and the European Parliament. It introduces new, stricter requirements for IT giants for the content that is published and distributed through their platforms.

“The law will update the rules for all online services in the EU. It will ensure that the online environment remains secure, protect freedom of expression and opportunities for digital businesses. It gives practical application to the principle that whatever is illegal offline must be “Illegal and online. The bigger the online platform, the greater its responsibility,” Layen said in an official statement.

The law provides a number of rules for online platforms. They will need to have new and clear procedures on what they do and how they remove illegal content such as hate speech, incitement to terrorism, sexual abuse of children and more. For online stores and platforms, there is an additional requirement to introduce mechanisms that do not allow the sale of illegal goods.

Another requirement will be online advertising. The law prohibits the selection and targeting of online ads based on gender, race, or religion. Special targeting of ads to children is also prohibited, as are practices of “targeting” consumers to specific products or services through hints, links, etc.

The law also provides for hefty fines for non-compliance. The fine can be up to 6% of world annual turnover. Companies can also be forced to submit information about their algorithms, and may even be charged up to 0.05% of their annual turnover each year to cover monitoring costs. The specific requirements and fines vary according to the size of the company.

Officially, IT giants are concise. Google told Reuters that “details will be important” and will “work with lawmakers to describe the remaining technical details correctly to ensure that the law works for everyone.” According to a report by the Corporate Europe Observatory and Global Witness, IT giants have lobbied hard in recent years to change details of the law according to their interests, TechCrunch reports. Last year alone, the five IT giants Apple, Amazon, Google, Meta and Spotify spent more than 27m euros on lobbying, the report said.

Companies have also described problems and weaknesses in laws that make it easier to circumvent the rules. For example, aggregating users into other groups that again allow them to target ads, arguing that they do not collect age data, and more.

The law is due to enter into force in 2024. It is separate from the Digital Markets Act, which was also adopted recently and has even heavier fines.

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