Google Play apps will now come with Apple-like data privacy labels

27 Apr 2022

Image: © Sami/Stock.adobe.com

Developers have until 20 July to fill in a new data safety section for their apps, as Google Play looks to be more transparent with users.

Google is introducing a new data safety section for apps in its Play store that will give Android users more information on how their data is being collected and used.

Similar to the Apple’s App Store privacy ‘nutrition labels’, the new data safety section on Google Play will include information filled in by app developers on what user data is being collected, for what purpose, and whether it is being shared with third parties.

Future Human

The section will also let users know if data collection is compulsory or optional for the app to work. Developers have until 20 July to complete this section for their apps.

Google first announced it was working on a new privacy section early last year, months after Apple introduced its own privacy summary section on the App Store.

The company said that the new addition to the Play store is a response to feedback from users and app developers, who noted that displaying the data collected by an app without providing additional context is “not enough”.

“Users want to know for what purpose their data is being collected and whether the developer is sharing user data with third parties,” Suzanne Frey, VP of product at Android security and privacy, wrote in a blog announcing the feature yesterday (26 April).

Frey added that users also want to understand how app developers are securing user data after an app is downloaded. “That’s why we designed the data safety section to allow developers to clearly mark what data is being collected and for what purpose it’s being used.”

As well as detailing basic data collection info, developers can use the data safety section to elaborate on their app’s security practices, like encryption of data in transit and whether users can ask for data to be deleted.

Google has also followed Apple in giving users more control over their data after they have downloaded an app, with new permission features.

For example, when an app asks Android users for their location, users can choose to share that data just once, only while using the app, or all the time. All permissions can also later be changed in the Android privacy dashboard, where users can review the data they’re sharing.

“Apps should help users explore the world, connect with loved ones, do work, learn something new, and more without compromising user safety,” Frey went on.

“The new data safety section, in addition to Google Play’s existing safety features, gives people the visibility and control they need to enjoy their apps.”

In February, Google said it was working on new measures to address ad-related data privacy on Android smartphones and curtail tracking across apps – promising not to make changes as “blunt” as moves taken by other companies.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com