Developers have until 20 July to fill in a new data safety section under their apps to be more transparent with users.
Alphabet is introducing a new data safety section below apps in its Google Play store for Android devices that will give users more information on how their data is being used.
Similar to the Apple’s App Store ‘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.
The section, that began rolling out on Google Play yesterday (26 April), 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.
It said that the move was a response to feedback from users and app developers 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.
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.”
Apart from some basic data collection info, developers can also use the data safety section to elaborate on the 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’s example in giving users more control over their data after they have downloaded the 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 that 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 other moves, such as those taken by Apple.
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