Google Play Store adds privacy labels for Android apps

Google phone

Helping smartphone users protect their personal data, new privacy labels for Android apps reveal how much of your data an app collects, how it protects that data and who it shares it with.

As web users start to pay more attention to privacy issues, Google is forcing app developers to be much more transparent as to how they use personal data. The new Google Play Data Safety section is rolling out over the coming weeks, with Google giving all app developers until July 20 to fill out privacy labels for Android apps.

Google is demanding a lot more granular detail than traditional privacy warnings. For example, if an app accesses your location data, the developer must disclose whether it requires your approximate or precise location. If the app requires your personal information, the developer must disclose whether that information will be used for advertising, analytics or marketing purposes.

Along with revealing which data is accessed and how it is used, app developers must also detail the app’s security practices, such as whether data is encrypted in transit and whether users can ask for data to be deleted. Developers must also indicate whether they have validated the app’s security practices against the Mobile Application Security Verification Standard (MASVS). 

To help parents make more informed decisions, privacy labels for Android apps must reveal whether or not the developer has committed to following Google Play’s Families Policy to better protect children.

Google also plans to restrict the availability of outdated apps on the Play Store, to ensure that those apps still available for download are taking advantage of Android’s latest privacy and security features.

The move by Google follows the launch of similar “Privacy Nutrition Labels” on Apple’s App Store in late 2020.

At the same time, Google is also granting users greater control over installed apps, through simplified permissions features.

For example, when an app asks to access their location, users can quickly and easily decide whether they want to grant that permission for one time use, only while using the app, or all the time. For sensitive permissions like camera, microphone or location data, users can use the Android Privacy dashboard to review data access by apps.

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