Google on Tuesday announced the release of its Data Protection section in Google Play that will allow users to view information about how apps collect, share and protect their data. The move, which was first announced in May last year, is similar to the way Apple introduced privacy nutrition labels in 2020. All developers who publish their apps on Google Play must complete the new section with information on how their apps collect and share user data. until 20 July.
Google said in a blog post that users will start seeing the data protection section in Google Play starting Wednesday. The section will have different elements to tell users what data an app is collecting and for what purpose. It will also show users whether the developer of the listed app is sharing their data with third parties.
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Google said the data protection section will help users get more visibility into “how apps collect, share, secure” on their Android devices. According to Google information developers can show in the data protection section:
- Is the developer collecting the data and for what purpose.
- Is the developer sharing the data with third parties.
- App’s security practices, such as encryption of data in transit and whether users can ask for data to be deleted.
- Whether an eligible app has committed to complying with Google Play’s Family Policy to better protect children in the Play Store.
- Have the developer validate their security practices against a global security standard (more specifically, MASVS).
- When users are visiting one of the apps list on Google Play they will start seeing the section.
Google initially informed developers about the change last year. It was also confirmed at the time that Google apps, along with apps from other developers, would also be part of the update and would feature data protection information in the new section.
One of the issues many researchers pointed to with Apple’s nutrition labels is its list of fake and misleading privacy labels. In some cases, app developers didn’t even include all the elements they were taking user data for. All this is mainly due to negligence on the level of Apple as it has not imposed any hard restrictions for developers to provide accurate information and filter out deceptively labeled apps.
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Google, on its part, said last year that “non-compliant apps will be subject to policy enforcement.” It also said that new app submissions and app updates starting in the second quarter “must include information” on their listings.
However, the Android maker is yet to provide any guidelines on how it will handle misinformation from developers.
Play Store already has the problem of fake apps that spread malware many times in the past. However, some of those apps were pulled by Google when reported. Thus, it seems interesting to see how the official Android Store will deal with any false information that may, at least, come from some developers.