Tech giant Google, on Thursday, said it has removed more than 2,000 loan apps from its India Play Store since January for violating terms, misrepresenting information, and questionable offline behaviour, as the company looks to tighten policies in the coming weeks for greater checks in this space.
Speaking at an event here, Saikat Mitra, Senior Director and Head of Trust and Safety, Google Asia-Pacific region (APAC), said the company is committed to complying with regulations in all jurisdictions it operates in and termed online harm as a “global phenomenon”.
“We have removed 2,000-plus loan apps from India Play Store from January till now... We are in the process of some more policy changes that are going to come out in a matter of few weeks... which will make it more explicit on requirements,” said Mitra, adding that the proposed move will lead to tighter checks.
Peak in loan app issues
He said the crackdown was based on leads and inputs received, violation of policy, lack of disclosures, and misinformation. The loan app problem has peaked, and may subside given the focus and attention the issue is garnering, he said, adding that the nature of the problem varies between markets.
For instance, the US market has a problem of predatory loans, while in India it is a combination of misrepresentation, non-compliance with policies and regulations, and improper offline or real-world behaviour of such apps on recovery and other actions.
Meanwhile, Google announced new online safety initiatives in India, including multi-city cybersecurity roadshows to upskill about one-lakh developers and digital safety-focussed grants of $2 million (around ₹16 crore) from Google.org to non-profit organisations, including Collective Good Foundation, Point Of View and HelpAge India that will enable high-risk groups such as women, micro-entrepreneurs, seniors and the LGBTQIA+ community to leverage the opportunity of the Internet with safety and confidence.
The measures are aimed at prioritising cybersecurity skilling, user awareness, and support for high-risk communities, said the company. It also announced a multilingual user awareness campaign supported by IT Ministry and Digital India Corporation to encourage Internet users to adopt better practices for safer digital transactions.