The Covenant Eyes app has been restored to the Google Play Store

The Covenant Eyes app has been restored to the Google Play Store

NASHVILLE (BP) — Google Play has reinstated pornography accountability software Covenant Eyes and Accountable2You after resolving what software executives say were misplaced privacy concerns.

Google Play reinstated the apps until March 1 after suspending them in September 2022 over concerns that the apps used spyware to track users’ activities on pornographic websites.

Covenant Eyes announced the rollback in a March 14 press release, which said Google Play approved the new version of the app on March 1.

“We have been working for 162 days and praying that our appeal will be successful,” said Covenant Eyes spokesman Dan Armstrong. “We are grateful that people who want to quit porn can once again access our app in the Google Play Store.”

Google Play accused the company of violating Google’s malware policy. Both companies denied the claims and presented their products as useful spiritual tools.

“Accountability is powerful and it has to be done properly,” Armstrong said. “When it comes to churches, leaders really need to commit to creating safe places with safe procedures to deal with issues like pornography. Strugglers need a safe environment to be honest and vulnerable on their journey.

“Help for unwanted porn use should be available to everyone, whether men, women or children who are struggling.”

Jason Thacker, director of technology ethics research at the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said the apps can help Christians and others struggling with pornography addiction and, if used appropriately, can be a useful discipleship tool.

“I think churches and faith-based employers can use these tools, but they need to do their due diligence to understand how they work, what they collect, and who can access them. However, some churches and organizations may choose not to use them, depending on their situation and context,” said Thacker, ERLC’s Digital Public Outreach Lead.

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“Many organizations filter the Internet with hardware or software-based tools that block access to certain websites and applications, rather than using personal accountability software. We must remember that pornography use is inherently a deeply intimate and isolating temptation, so these tools should be accompanied by trusted friends and transparent relationships, not simply seen as a one-sided solution to a much deeper problem.”

Accountable2You accused Google Play of targeting the app because it is against crime.

“Accountable2You markets our services to individuals, families and the church. We have a group plan designed for a church to get a discount with its members,” the company said of its service.

“According to the plan, the pastor and the church management do not see the activities of any member. Members can share their activities with whomever they choose, or not at all—and we discourage pastors from receiving accountability reports from their congregations.”

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