In response to a request from the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), Google has taken down 14 applications from its app store that were found to have breached the personal information of Pakistani residents. The Alphabet-owned US tech company was contacted by NADRA, which brought the issue to the attention of Scott Beaumont, Google’s president for Asia Pacific, Hiang Choong, the legal head for the region, and Stephanie Davis, the vice president for customer solutions at the company.
The letter titled “Breach of Personal Data of Residents and their Privacy by Application Providers on Google Play Store” was described as “important and urgent” and highlighted the issue of the illegal selling and/or sharing of personal data of Pakistani residents by various apps on Google Play Store.
According to NADRA, the recently removed apps had used its name and products deceptively to mislead users into thinking that they were affiliated with, authorized by, or operated by NADRA. These apps gained undeserved credibility for their services, while obtaining personal data from Pakistani residents, which violated Google’s policy on impersonation that prohibits users from pretending to be someone else.
The letter further stated that all such apps should be immediately taken down from Google Play Store, and the publishing, promoting, and using of NADRA’s name or logo for similar purposes should be prohibited in the future. NADRA has also stressed the need to curb illegal activities that involve sharing and selling of its proprietary and sensitive information, which could have serious security implications for Pakistan as well as breach the privacy of its residents.