Internet search giant Google has forced Samourai, the privacy-focused Bitcoin wallet, to remove key security features from its app.
Google claims that Samourai risked breaching its so-called unofficial “walled garden” policy which is designed to prevent app manufacturers and designers creating closed systems where the service provider controls all operations in the system including applications, content, and media.
The new app has had to remove three key features in order to continue using Google’s distribution service, Google Play. Stealth mode, SIM switch defense, and remote SMS commands have all been taken down from the app in line with Google’s request. Samourai commented that:
“Users of Samourai might have noticed that they are no longer getting notifications on when they receive Bitcoin. That’s because if you want to use notification services you have to route everything through Google services.”
Despite the enforced changes, Samourai maintains that users are still getting “maximum amounts of privacy” unsurpassed by other Bitcoin wallet apps. However, the company says that it hopes that the decision may be reversed by Google or find a compromise. Developers have promised to re-implement all disabled features.
3/ Features disallowed by Google will be re-implemented as soon as possible, either as workarounds or by other means.
— TDevD [No KYC, no T&C, no ?] (@SamouraiDev) January 9, 2019
The removal of “stealth mode” can be an issue as it masks the presence of a Bitcoin wallet on a users mobile device and is, therefore, a security issue. Another missing feature under Google’s instructions, the remote SMS commands, normally ensures that a stolen phone can be wiped via on SMS, thereby protecting user information.
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