Today, I'm disappointed and sad to announce that NRICTools had been removed from Google Play Store. This has happened despite myself trying my best for the past few weeks to get the app reinstated. In the email sent by Google to me, Google states that NRICTools does not comply with their Deceptive Behaviour policy.
In Google's Deceptive Behaviour policy, Google states that any application that generates or facilitates the generation of ID cards are considered 'dishonest behaviour'. I cannot avoid nor argue the fact that NRICTools does indeed allow users to generate and do facilitate the generation of ID cards in a way. I also understand that there are existing apps on Google Play that does the exact same thing as NRICTools. The formula to generate and to verify NRIC can be easily found on the Internet and is used to power the features available on NRICTools.
Please be advised that any perceived compliance or non-compliance of other developers’ apps doesn’t affect the compliance of your apps. We will approve or reinstate your app if we find that the initial decision was made in error.
A few weeks ago, I received an email from Google stating that the in-app billing library used in NRICTools is outdated and will no longer be supported moving forward. I immediately opened up NRICTools source code and began removing all the old in-app billing library logic and implemented the new Google Play Billing Library 4. I did internal testing on all my personal devices and it was working well. The new update bearing version 67 was then uploaded to Google Play for review for production.
The update was subsequently approved for production by Google and I rolled out the update to about 50% of the userbase. A few days later, I checked my Google Play Console and found that there were no reported crash on users who have installed the new version of NRICTools with the new billing library, so I updated the roll-out to 100%. After the roll-out to 100%, I was hit with the suspension.
Once your app is suspended, you forfeit the users, statistics, and ratings of the removed application. If your developer credentials are still in good standing with Google Play and if your app allows for it, you can publish a new compliant version of the application.
Below I publish a few facts and statistics about NRICTools because I like transparency...
NRICTools's idea first started as a Windows application that a good friend and I developed using NET Framework 2.0 back in secondary school. I took computer studies as a subject and was told by my teachers that NRIC numbers can actually be verified using a formula. Back then, NRIC numbers weren't so sensitive and there also wasn't any spotlight on the use of NRIC numbers.
We live in a very different world today and this also meant the end of NRICTools on Google Play.
For fans of NRICTools (if there's any at all), I will try to build a version of NRICTools (with the Google Play Billing feature used for Donate completely removed and Themes feature available for all) and publish the APK here soon. I will also sign the APK with the same key so you can simply install over your existing installation. I will do it once I have the time. NRICTools currently uses AAB (App bundles) for publishing to Google Play, so that will change back to APK.
In the future, I might also release a version of NRICTools on Google Play with the generate feature removed. You can still type your NRIC to verify I guess... Not sure if I would want to risk my developer standing on Google Play for that though.
I felt that it was quite hard to communicate with Google Play support when all they said was NRICTools "facilitates the generation of ID cards, social security numbers" with no understanding of the facts provided that the logic is readily available online and there was no shady behaviour. I understand that what they claimed is true, but to use the term "Deceptive Behaviour" just doesn't seem right to me. Well, I guess their platform, their rules.
As always, take care (stay safe) and I will see you soon
Updated: 20 Aug 2021
Dazhong Primary School
Bukit View Secondary School
(Diploma in Computer Engineering)
University of Wollongong
(Bachelor of Computer Science - Digital System Security with Distinction)