Data Transparency; Google announces its own nutrition labels for apps

By Ashika Rajan, Trainee Reporter
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Global tech giant Google has revealed that it will soon ask developers to disclose what data is collected, stored, and where it is used as part of Google Play’s upcoming ‘safety section’.

The feature, which is close to Apple’s app nutrition labels, is expected to launch in Q1 2022.

Ms. Suzanne Frey, Vice President, Product, Android Security, and Privacy stated that “developers agree that people should have transparency and control over their data. And they want simple ways to communicate app safety that are easy to understand and help users to make informed choices about how their data is handled. Developers also want to give additional context to explain data use and how safety practices could affect the app experience.”

The new safety section will also inform users of the app’s “security practices, like data encryption”; follows Google’s Families policy; really “needs this data to function or if users have a choice in sharing it”; if its “safety section is verified by an independent third-party” and if it “enables users to request data deletion if they decide to uninstall,” Ms. Frey explained.

Developers may be required to disclose the types of data collected and stored, including whether the location is approximate or accurate, contacts, personal information, images and videos, audio files, and store files. They’ll have to clarify how the data is used as well.

The new policy will ensure that they provide correct information and follow it up with enforcement for violators.

All apps, including Google apps, will be able to display this data starting in the first quarter of 2022. Although developers can begin declaring information via the Google Play console as early as the fourth quarter of 2021, this will become mandatory for all new submissions after the second quarter of 2022.

Some apps, especially Facebook, have criticized Apple’s nutrition label. It will now be interesting to see how Menlo Park responds to Google’s latest announcement.

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