Technology

Google demands Android app developers turn over Data safety info by July 20th

ace Ars Technica points out, by July 20th, all apps listed in the Google Play Store in the face of a deadline. On that date, all of the app listings on the site will need to include the Data safety information provided by the developers of each app. The Data safety feature is found on most apps listed in the Play Store by opening any random oneand scrolling down until you see the Data safety heading on the screen.

Google is replacing the Android app’s permissions list with the new Data safety feature in the Play Store

For example, we opened the TikTok app, and under the Data safety heading it says, “Safety starts with understanding how developers collect and share your data. Data privacy and security practices may vary based on your use, region, and age. The developer provided this information and may update it over time.” TikTok’s Data safety listing says that the app does not share data with third parties, encrypts data in transit, and allows you to request that data be deleted.

On the other hand, the Data safety listing does note that the app collects Location, Personal info, and 9 other different types of data. If this bothers you, you might decide not to install TikTok or uninstall it if you’ve already added the app to your phone.

This data replaces the list of Android operating system permissions that the app requests from the OS. That list is created by Google while the Data safety list is submitted to Google by app developers. Get the difference? The app permissions list is created by Google when it scans the permissions info requested by Play Store apps and thus nothing is left out or not disclosed intentionally by the developer .
But since the Data safety feature uses data completely submitted by developers, users have to believe that when a developer tells Google that his app doesn’t capture users’ personal and location data, they are telling the truth. And you can’t see whether a developer, vouching for his app, has his fingers crossed behind his back.

Android users will need to put their faith in both app developers and Google

This is how Google explains the new Data safety listing to Android app developers: “You alone are responsible for making complete and accurate declarations in your app’s store listing on Google Play. Google Play reviews apps across all policy requirements; however, we cannot make determinations on behalf of the developers of how they handle user data. Only you possess all the information required to complete the Data safety form. When Google becomes aware of a discrepancy between your app behavior and your declaration, we may take appropriate action, including enforcement action .”

The question then becomes not only can you trust an app’s developer to pass along to Google all of the personal and private data that an app collects, but you also have to ask yourself whether you believe that Google can properly police the new Data safety listing. Considering that we are always writing about some form of Android malware that has somehow made it through Google’s scanning, that is a fair question to ask.

If you’ve switched from iOS to Android recently, the Data safety information might seem familiar. That’s because Apple has a similar feature in the App Store called App Privacy. This data shows the data that an app says it collects that can be used to track you across third-party apps and websites. The feature also shows the data that a particular app collects that can be linked to your identity.

The bottom line is that whether you are installing Android or iOS apps, you do have a way to see how much of your personal data is exposed. Can we trust these lists since they come from the app developers themselves? With Google replacing app permissions with Data safety listings, iOS and Android users have no alternative.

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