Google PlayStore Arm-Twists Samourai Wallet into Removing Security and Privacy Features


Samourai Wallet recently announced that it would have to remove some of its security features. This is due to new restrictive policies by Google PlayStore. Developers of this wallet applied for an exemption to the rules but Google turned down the request.

The New Policies by Google

Samourai Wallet, the mobile BTC wallet was forced to disable some security features based on the new policy. The developers wrote that it was with a lot of sadness that they had to disable some security features for version 0.99.04 of their wallet. They added that this new policy by Google was their attempt to create a walled garden experience.

The features being disabled are the SIM Switch Defense, Stealth Mode, and Remote SMS Commands. Samourai went on to explain that they wrote to Google. In their address to the tech company, they had explained that removing the functionality would cause users that rely on the features to be more exposed to security threats.

The developers stated that Google had no regard for the security benefits offered by the wallet. They noted that if they had not complied with the new rules, the wallet would have been taken off Google PlayStore.

Three Security Features Are No More

The three features that have been taken out were part of the first version of the wallet, which was released in 2015. These settings are optional but come turned on by default. Developers of the wallet noted that no other wallet has even offered such features. They sadly noted it was likely that no other would ever offer the features due to Google’s heavy-handedness.

SIM Switch Defense, one of the features being removed lets users know that their SIM card is being hijacked. To accomplish this, it sends a stealth message to a trusted mobile number when the SIM card is changed.

The Stealth Mode is another feature that is being disabled. It gives users a method of hiding their wallet app from hackers who have access to smartphones. By enabling the feature, the app has to be granted access in order to make undetected outgoing calls. The developers tweeted that many users in South America that used the feature were at risk because of Google’s policy.

The final feature is Remote SMS Commands. It allows users who lose a device to erase the BTC wallet remotely. This prevents any more losses of the BTC. The wallet developers tweeted that the feature had now been killed.

How to Bypass the Google Restrictions

Since the PlayStore forced Samourai Wallet to get rid of the features, the team said that they would look for ways to bring them back. In the meantime, they will try to offer all the features through other distribution models.

For instance, they are considering F-Droid, an alternative app market and direct download in the near future. For now, the developers are requesting users to disable the stealth mode before they update to their apps new version.

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