Google has launched a Data Safety feature for apps that are on the Google Play store. This was announced on Google’s The Keyword blog in a post titled: “Get more information about your apps in Google Play”. It was written by Vice President, Product, Android Security and Privacy Suzanne Frey.
Google’s Data Safety features are likely a response to Apple’s App Tracking Transparency. It gives iOS users the ability to not only see what each app on their devices is tracking, but also to stop the apps from doing that. The Keyword blog includes information about what their Data Safety feature does:
We heard from users and app developers that displaying the data an app collects, without additional context, is not enough. Users want to know for what purpose their data is being collected and whether the developer is sharing user data with third parties. In addition, users want to understand how app developers are securing user data after an app is downloaded.
Here is the information developers can show in the Data safety section:
- Whether the developer is collecting data and for what purpose.
- Whether the developer is sharing data with third parties.
- The app’s security practices, like encryption of data in transit and whether users can ask for data to be deleted.
- Whether a qualifying app has committed to following Google Play’s Families Policy to better protect children in the Play store.
- Whether the developer has validated their security practices against a global security standard (more specifically, the MASVS).
TechCrunch reported that both sets of labels focus on informing users about how apps collect and manage data and user privacy. There are some key differences. Apple’s largely focuses on what data is being collected, including data used for tracking purposes, and on informing the user what’s linked to them. According to TechCrunch, Google’s labels put a bigger focus on whether you can trust the data that’s collected is being handled responsibly by allowing developers to disclose if they follow best practices around data security.
TechCrunch also reported that the labels give Android developers a way to make their case as to why they collect the data on the label, so users can understand how the data is used. This helps inform the user’s decision to download the app. They can also see if the data collection is required or optional.
Personally, I’m in favor of labels that let people know what an app is going to track and/or collect from them if they decide to download an app. The labels require app developers to be more ethical about why they want to grab a user’s data.