Google Explains Android’s “Kill Switch”

The discovery of a so-called “kill switch” within the new T-Mobile G1’s Android Market app store is causing a minor uproar throughout the blogosphere and tech media world. It’s no surprise — we saw plenty of backlash when a similar feature was found with the iPhone a couple of months ago. But what does this thing really do, and is it a cause for concern?

The buzz all comes over a single line found within the Android Market’s terms of service. The line states that if Google finds an app that “violates the developer distribution agreement,” it “retains the right to remotely remove” it from your phone “at its sole discretion.” The question, then, is how liberally that right will be exercised.

The answer? Not liberally at all, Google says.

“The Android Market is designed so developers can make their applications easily available to users,” a spokesperson explains. “While we encourage that community aspect, we are also very careful with the safety and security of the user. In limited cases where an application has a malicious intent, we will remove it from the Market and potentially uninstall it from user devices to ensure the safety of the Android Market community.”

There you have it: the real deal on the Android “kill switch,” straight from the horse’s mouth. Feel better?

The truth is that it’d be tough to have an open mobile system — with no carrier control over applications — without having some sort of protection plan in place. The safety of the network and its users depend on that. As long as Google sticks to its word on the intent and function of the remote delete option, there’s nothing to get upset over here. The worst that could happen is that a dangerous program that could ruin your phone will be deleted, and Google will help get your money back.