Did iOS 14 make Google buckle? Play Store apps must reveal data-sharing practices

iOS 14’s “nutrition labels” privacy feature, introduced last year, must have shook Google to the core. The search engine long faced pressure from security-minded advocates, and now it seems like Google is finally buckling. It’s taking great strides toward appeasing privacy-concerned users.

On the heels of Apple’s late-April iOS 14.5 update, Google announced that it will require Play Store developers to be more transparent about how they collect user data.

Google announces new requirement for Play Store developers

Google announced that developers will be required to reveal how their Play Store apps collect user data, which, as mentioned, is awfully similar to Apple’s “nutrition labels” privacy feature that urged developers to self-report their data-collection practices. With Apple receiving praise for its commitment to user privacy, perhaps Google felt impelled to follow the iPhone maker’s footsteps.

Google will add a segment called the “safety section” to Play Store apps, which will address the following questions:

Does the app feature security practices (e.g. data encryption)?Does the app follow Google’s Families policy?Does the app need user data to function?Do users have a choice in sharing their data?Is the app’s safety section verified by an independent third party?Does the app let users request data deletion if they uninstall it?

The safety section will also address whether the app collects users’ location, contacts, personal information (e.g. name, email, address), photos, videos, audio and storage files.

The search-engine giant is hoping developers maintain their integrity and submit declarations honestly. “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 will be subject to policy enforcement,” Google said in a blog.

When will the new safety section arrive to Google Play?

Google stated that it wants to give developers ample time to prepare for the new Play Store feature, so users will have to wait until Q1 of 2022 before they can see the new safety sections; this is when developers can start declaring their data usage on the platform. 

Google Play Store data-sharing road map (Image credit: Google)

According to Google’s road map, Play Store users can expect all apps to divulge their data management by Q2 of 2022 — the developer deadline for the Play Store’s safety sections.

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