Google Play Store’s new Safety section will show you how apps use your data
In December 2020, Apple put into place a somewhat controversial requirement for app listings in its App Store: Privacy Labels. These privacy labels essentially provide a quick rundown of the data that the app collects or has access to, and further, what the app does with it. Google now wants to walk along a similar path, as the company will be adding a new safety section in Google Play that will provide greater transparency into how apps use this data.
Google is pre-announcing a new safety section in Google Play, providing an overview of the data that an app collects or shares, if that data is secured, and any other additional details that would impact privacy and security. The latter bits include additional context that would explain data use and how safety practices could affect the app experience. In total, the safety section would highlight:
- Data that the app collects or shares (for example, approximate or precise location, contacts, personal information (e.g. name, email address), photos & videos, audio files, and storage files)
- Security practices used by the app, like data encryption
- Whether the app follows the Google Play Families Policy
- Whether the data is mandatorily needed for app functioning, or if the users can have a choice in sharing it
- Whether the Safety Section has been verified by an independent third-party
- Whether the app allows users to request for data deletion if the user decides to uninstall
This is a pre-announcement, a heads-up to developers if you may call it that, that Google Play will be seeing a renewed focus on such disclosures. The new Policy will be shared sometime in Q3 2021, with the Section becoming visible for users in Q1 2022, while Google will be imposing a deadline for new and existing apps to declare this information sometime in Q2 2022. This is a tentative timeline, with exact dates coming out closer to those goals.
Similar to app details like screenshots and descriptions, developers are responsible for the information disclosed in their app’s Safety section. The relevant Google Play policy will mandate accurate information within this section, and data misrepresentation by the developer will be treated as a Google Play policy violation.
There’s still some time for the new Policy to be revealed with its details. In the meantime, Google has shared some other resources for developers: