GOOGLE HAS BANNED all apps from the Play Store that offer "deceptive or harmful" payday loans.
Companies offering the loans, which have been linked directly to a cycle of poverty, have expressed serious displeasure at the move which is said to be to protect its users from exploitation.
Firms offering loans via apps will be forced to either restructure to offer lower interest rates (less than 36 per cent) or accept their fate.
Although the public perception of payday loans has become significantly more negative in recent years, especially in the wake of the collapse of payday loan giant Wonga, the practice has continued with companies arguing that the Google ban will hurt those looking for legitimate loans (legitimate and moral aren't necessarily the same thing, mind).
On the surface, then, this all seems like a good idea, but let's look at the bigger picture. Does Google have the right to decide the success or failure of an entire category of business?
Yes, this time it hasn't been evil (hey! that should be a thing!) but if it can ban payday loan companies, it could easily decide that, for example, all birds are immoral and ban all Angry Birds games from the store.
It's a hyper-real example, but the point remains, this is Google exercising power that extends beyond its primary function as a service provider. This decision is, in effect, a political one.
One of the primary arguments that we hear for breaking up the tech giants is their sheer power and influence. What they do can mean success or failure for not just a product but an entire sector, and many feel that no private company with commercial interest should wield that much power.
The US government is currently investigating big tech, including Google, whilst the EU has been concerned for some considerable time, and has been doling out multi-billion Euro fines to Google that aren't touch the sides. μ
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