Google has announced that it will be imposing new restrictions on apps that offer loans to individuals in an effort to combat predatory behavior by some lenders. The company will be restricting these apps from accessing sensitive user data such as photos, videos, and contacts.
The move comes in response to recent reports of harassment of borrowers by debt collectors. These recovery agents have allegedly accessed the personal contacts of borrowers and informed friends and family of outstanding debts.
In some cases, they have even employed manipulated images to intimidate those in debt, leading to tragic instances where individuals have taken their own lives. These instances have been particularly prevalent in markets in India and Kenya.
Google initially responded to these reports by blocking hundreds and then thousands of personal loan apps from the Play Store after being alerted by law enforcement agencies and central banks. The company also introduced rules to ban unlicensed loan apps from the Android app store.
In addition to these measures, Google has now updated its Personal Loans policy to prohibit apps from accessing external storage, photos, videos, contacts, precise location, and call logs. The change will come into effect on May 31, and will apply to apps that provide personal loans or facilitate access to personal loans.
According to the company, the updated policy is designed to prevent the harassment of borrowers by debt collectors.
“Apps that provide personal loans, or have the primary purpose of facilitating access to personal loans, are prohibited from accessing sensitive data, such as photos and contacts,” Google said in its update.