We are trying to make the world a better place by ending homelessness and eradicating poverty. So it is frustrating (to say the least) when our plans are set back by our very efforts to help others. As the saying goes: “No good deed goes unpunished!” The punisher in this instance was megacorporation Google. Here’s what happened.
As we have detailed elsewhere, our central project has had to be put on hold for the duration of the Covid-19 outbreak. With businesses closed and interaction effectively banned, our plans for employing homeless people are unworkable in the current crisis. However, we still have our skilled base in app development, and we wondered if we couldn’t use the downtime to quickly produce a pair of apps that would bring those in need of help to the attention of those who could offer it.
The Kanndoo project has always been about connecting people, and we thought we could develop a useful conduit for the sudden global emergence of good will. We thought we could do it quickly, adapting code developed for our apps helping the homeless, get it live and worry about making it pretty later. We were wrong.
In our haste to get a useful tool to the public, we overlooked a recently added subclause to Google Play Store’s terms and conditions:
“In order to help ensure we are providing users with accurate and timely information relating to COVID-19, we are currently prioritizing the review and publication of apps published, commissioned, or authorized by official government entities and public health organizations. Any apps referencing COVID-19, or related terms, in any form in their metadata will only be approved for distribution in the Play Store if they are published, commissioned, or authorized by one of these entities.”
The first we knew about it was when we discovered that our entire account had been suspended. Not just a rejection of our proposal for helping isolated people during a crisis, our entire account of over 40 apps was shut down overnight. Apps we have painstakingly developed over the last two years. Apps that are designed to help the poorest in our society or to raise money for causes that save lives.
To say we feel frustrated is perhaps an understatement. We were angry for a time, even despondent for a time. But now we are back - looking for alternatives. After all, the Play Store is not the only marketplace for Android Apps. Our work is too important (and likely to become more so as the economic consequences of the current crisis become apparent) to let some overzealous employee of a global megacorporation screw us over.
Okay, rant over, lesson learned, we’ve got work to do...