HomeTechnologyNewsGoogle Play Store now forces apps to reveal what data is collected

Google Play Store now forces apps to reveal what data is collected


Google is rolling out a new Data Security section in the Play Store, the official Android app repository, where developers must declare what data their software collects from their app users.

This will be like a privacy label that gives users crucial information at a glance, which should be enough to help them decide if they want to proceed with the installation.

Application that declares what data it collects
Application that declares what data it collects
(Google)

Developers will not only state what data they collect, but also what data they share with third parties, essentially revealing the purpose behind the collection.

If the user wants more information about a particular entry, tapping on the corresponding item will collapse the menu to reveal more information about what is being collected or shared.

See details in the shared data section
See details in the shared data section
(Google)

The third pillar of the Data Security section will be Application Security Practices, which describe the security mechanisms used to protect collected data, such as the MASVS standard.

This third section also clarifies whether users have the option to request the deletion of their data at any time.

Finally, Data Security will specify if the application follows the Google Play Family Policy, which is aimed at protecting children.

Google is rolling out the new Data Safety section gradually so Android users won’t see this new section right away, but over the next two weeks.

Developers can start declaring how data collected is used starting today, with the deadline to complete their submissions being July 20, 2022.

Google told BleepingComputer that the developers would provide this information themselves, which Google will not confirm. However, if a developer is found to have misrepresented their data usage disclosures, you will be required to correct the information provided.

Failure to do so would result in policy violations, leading to the app being suspended from the Google Play Store.

For more information about the new system, what’s included and how it works, check out Google’s support page.

Replacement of a bad system

Until now, Android apps on the Play Store had to include a link to their Privacy Policy in the “Additional Information” section and provide a contact email.

Because this privacy policy is hosted at an external location, it is subject to change, may be vague, may not reveal all crucial details about data collection and protection, and may even lead to a broken link.

Current way of accessing data collection information
Current way of accessing data collection information (Play store)

Also, since reading lengthy texts of legal jargon isn’t exactly what users are looking for when looking for new apps on the Google Play Store, hardly anyone reviews them.

Finally, due to the practical difficulties derived from the above, it has been impossible for Google to validate that the applications respect the terms presented in their privacy policies.

Data security gives users a clear understanding of what happens to their data without the need to spend time digging through sections, while also allowing Google to enforce the law.

Reaching

While Google’s move is beneficial for Android users, Apple already introduced a similar feature called ‘Privacy Nutrition Labels’ in 2020.

Apple TV Data Collection Summary
Apple TV Data Collection Summary (Apple)

This is another case where competition in the mobile operating system space has brought positive developments, giving users more information and control over how their data is handled by the various software running on their smartphones.

With the plethora of scam apps, malware, and predatory apps found on Google Play, this new Data Security section will not only be helpful to Android users, but will also allow Google to find policy violators faster.

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