Epic Play Store abandonment prompts Google to create ‘Fortnite Task Force’

In the context: With so much news going on about Epic Games’ battle with Apple, it’s easy to forget that Google is also involved in a legal altercation. The search giant was so concerned that Fortnite initially ditched its app store in favor of the Samsung Galaxy Store and Epic’s website that it created a task force to address the issue.

Bloomberg reports that details of Google’s target group were disclosed in legal filings that are part of Google’s objection to Epic on claims that the latter installed an “unapproved” version of Fortnite on Android phones, putting users at risk.

Epic’s answer includes details of the target group. According to internal documents, it was created in 2018 and gathered daily to deal with Fortnite, bypassing the Google store. Part of the group’s work is said to have included focusing on a potential security issue for anyone who downloads Fortnite unpublished.

Google typically gives app developers 90 days to fix any flaws before publicly disclosing them, but it only waited nine days before exposing the issue to “friendly matches” in the media. According to the statement, Google did this to “deter developers from launching applications outside of Google Play and to maintain Google’s monopoly on distributing Android apps.”

While Google app security page explains that it may disclose vulnerabilities sooner or later than 90 days in “extreme circumstances,” the documentation says that even Google’s own software developers considered the Fortnite security warnings excessive. The head of Android’s security team wrote in an email that the message to users “really does feel inappropriately dire,” Epic said.

Google, of course, defended its actions. It states that the vulnerabilities that were present in Fortnite on Android could compromise consumer data. “Security and protection are our top priorities, so of course we have taken steps to alert our users of this vulnerability in line with our application security policy. We will continue to fight Epic’s claims in court, ”said company spokesman Peter Schottenfels.

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