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Google asks app developers to declare privacy practices on Play Store

Apps risk getting blocked if their data safety sections aren’t in place before the deadline.

Developers will soon be required to tell Google about their apps’ privacy and security practices by completing a form in Play Console, the search giant announced in a blog post. The company added that the information provided by app developers will be shown on the Play Store’s listing starting late April 2022.

The company has set a deadline of July 20, 2022, for all developers to declare how they collect and handle user data for the apps they publish on Google Play, and provide details about how they protect this data through security practices like encryption.

Source: Google

Google reasoned that the move will help users understand how apps collect and share user data before they proceed to download the app. Android is the most popular OS in the world but its track record on privacy has been found wanting. Google has announced several measures to shore up privacy in recent months and this step will help users in making an informed choice about the apps that they download on their phones.

What will be asked in the Data Safety form?

Google revealed that all developers with a published app will be expected to comply with the directive and declare if they indulge in activities such as:

  • Data collection: The company explained that it means transmitting data from an app off a user’s device.
  • Data sharing: It refers to transferring user data collected from an app to a third party.
  • Data handling: Developers will have to disclose whether each data type collected by their app is “optional” or “required.”
  • Independent security review: Developers can declare that their app has been independently validated against a global security standard. “This is an optional review undertaken and paid for by developers,” Google said.
  • Other app and data disclosures: Developers have to convey whether their apps offer encryption in transit and a deletion request mechanism.

Source: Google

Google informed developers that the form will unfold in the following manner:

  1. Developers will be asked whether their app collects or shares certain types of user data.
  2. App developers will then answer questions about each type of user data.
  3. They will then see a preview of what will be shown to users on the Play Store listing.
  4. Google will review the form once it is submitted by the developer.

Understanding Google’s review process

The company curiously clarified: “Google’s review process is not designed to verify the accuracy and completeness of your data safety declarations. While we may detect certain discrepancies in your declarations and we will be taking appropriate enforcement measures when we do, only you possess all the information required to complete the Data safety form.”

App developers can continue to publish app updates temporarily until July 20, 2022. Google said that developers will not have to do anything if the form meets its criteria.

“If there are issues, you (developers) will need to revert your Data safety form’s status to “Draft” in Play Console to publish your app update,” the company wrote in the post.

The company said that the apps may be blocked after July 20, 2022, based on the information provided by the developers.

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“If we find that a developer has misrepresented the data they’ve provided and is in violation of the policy, we will require the developer to fix it. Apps that don’t become compliant are subject to policy enforcement, like blocked updates or removal from Google Play,” the search giant said.

When did Google come out with this section?

The company first announced this feature in May 2021, while apps on Apple’s App Store have showcased similar privacy labels since December 2020.

Google said that it required all apps to provide a privacy policy by this deadline. Previously, only apps that collected personal and sensitive user data needed to share a privacy policy. All apps, including Google’s own apps, had to comply with these new policies. The feature was supposed to go live in February 2022 but was delayed by a couple of months.

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I cover several beats such as Crypto, Telecom, and OTT at MediaNama. I can be found loitering at my local theatre when I am off work consuming movies by the dozen.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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