Developers across the globe have been warned by Google that if their apps fail to adhere to current User Data policies they will face “limited visibility” or are at risk of being completely removed from the Play Store.

Google’s User Data policy now requires app developers to submit a valid privacy policy both on the Play Store and within the app itself. This is particularly pertinent if the app handles sensitive information or requires sensitive permissions such as access to the camera, microphone or contacts. It could be that developer has unintentionally left out the privacy policy, but what is more likely is that apps that are without one are nothing but junk.

These so called “zombie apps” have been around for some time and are usually nothing but attempts at gaining advertising revenue, standing as unreliable clones of popular software or even gaining user data to sell. The User Data policy states that developers must be “transparent” in their explanations of gaining and handling user information and that such information must be securely handled using modern cryptography, such as via HTTPS. Developers that have received the notice have until March 15 to update their apps to comply with new regulations. Those who ignore the warning will risk their app being hidden from view or removed completely from the Play Store. This also stands for apps that perform badly.

Developer of the app Hip Hop Ninja, Jack Cooney, told UK site The Next Web:

“I think it’s fantastic, this will clear the Google Play store of so many junk and zombie apps that our games will find increased visibility on the store as the search terms will become much less cluttered.”

This may be bad news for some, but good news for both Play Store users who have complained that the site is overcrowded and developers like Cooney whose original apps will gain increased visibility. It is definitely a step in the right direction for Google and shows that the company are taking their privacy policy seriously by tightening control of what developers must do to protect their users. In time, the Play Store may even rival the likes of Apple’s App Store when it comes to a clean and tidy design.