If you didn't know, Google has the ability to remotely delete applications from your phone that may be malicious or otherwise violate the Android and Android Market Terms of Service. And it's a pretty big deal when that happens, and it's a testament to the platform and the developers that it doesn't often happen in this open community.

But Google recently took steps to remotely wipe an app from a small number of phones. And in the interest of full disclosure, they're telling us why:

Recently, we became aware of two free applications built by a security researcher for research purposes. These applications intentionally misrepresented their purpose in order to encourage user downloads, but they were not designed to be used maliciously, and did not have permission to access private data — or system resources beyond permission.INTERNET. As the applications were practically useless, most users uninstalled the applications shortly after downloading them.

After the researcher voluntarily removed these applications from Android Market, we decided to exercise our remote application removal feature on the remaining installed copies to complete the cleanup.

The remote application removal feature is one of many security controls Android possesses to help protect users from malicious applications. In case of an emergency, a dangerous application could be removed from active circulation in a rapid and scalable manner to prevent further exposure to users. While we hope to not have to use it, we know that we have the capability to take swift action on behalf of users’ safety when needed.

Good on Google for not wielding this sword unnecessarily, and good on them for explaining to us why it was done. Hit the source link for the full deets. [Android Developers Blog]