"We will come up with labels when it's appropriate," said Halley. "Now, we will make sure that we tell customers what's going on on their phones. We'll tell them what it does, and let them make the decision whether they want to make the trade-off and keep the app."
That was essentially the same practices that security companies used initially during the debates over adware and spyware on Windows PCs. Eventually, most antivirus vendors moved to a more forceful approach, and started to automatically remove such software.
"This is an inevitable discussion on mobile," said Haley. "We're going to see app vendors experiment with how to monetize their apps on Android phones, more so on mobile than on the PC, because mobile apps are sold at very inexpensive prices or given away for free. It's understandable that we'll see some pushing the boundaries, or even going beyond them."
Symantec said it reported the 13 apps with the Android.Counterclank code to Google, but that Google said the apps did not violate any of its policies, and would remain in the Android Market.
"We expect in the future there may be many similar situations where we will inform users about an application, but the application will remain in the Google Android Market," Symantec noted.
Google has declined to comment on Symantec's original malware claims or on the counter-arguments made by Lookout Security.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer , on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is email@example.com .
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