Android apps downloaded from the Google Play Store already have to ask users for permission before they can use your camera or mic, access your contact list or local storage, or certain other data or features.
But starting next year, Google will make it easier to users to see how apps collect, store, and protect personal data with a new Data Safety section in Play Store app listings. First announced earlier this year, Google is now allowing developers to fill out Data Safety info and users will begin to see it starting in February, 2022.
At a high level, the labels will let you know if an app collects data, if it’s encrypted in transit, if there’s an option to request that data be deleted, if it’s been subjected to an independent security review, and if it follows Google Play’s Family Policies.
But you can also tap for more info to find out things like what your data is used for, such as app functionality, analytics, advertising, security and fraud prevention, and/or to receive communications from the developer.
There’s also a fairly lengthy list of what types of data an app might collect, including:
- Personal information like names
- Account info like email addresses or phone numbers, race, ethnicity, or other personal info
- Financial info like credit card or bank account numbers or purchase history
- Health and fitness info like medical records of exercise activity
- Messages including email, SMS, or instant messages
- Photos or videos
- Audio files including music or voice memos
- Files and docs
- Calendar events
- App activity including page views, taps, and in-app searches
- Web browser history
- App performance info like crash logs or diagnostics
- Device or other identifiers
By April, 2022, all apps will be required to have Data Safety info published, including apps that don’t collect any user data at all (because it’s good to know that too, I guess).
I regard this as part of the ongoing trend wherein Google will expose the privacy problems of competitors while doing the same stuff.
Only in this case, they’d have to list what’s collected in their own applications as well, but for the most part you can’t uninstall the ones most important to Google without root, and then you’re considered untrustworthy.
I think ultimately, they intend to exhaust people by showing those who care that wishing for privacy is futile, and they should just submit and embrace the botnet.
It’s also an opportunity to mass purge old apps.
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