Privacy labels come to Google Play

Google has introduced its version of privacy labels for the Play Store to provide users with more information regarding the data collected by the apps and how it is used.

The announcement came in response to Apple’s key privacy features, the so-called “nutrition labels”, which inform users at a glance which personal data are used and how. Now, Google is rolling out a similar feature available on Android apps, and the Play Store’s users have their privacy labels that include information on data sharing with third parties, encryption, appropriateness for kids, and more.

According to Google, the privacy label is a feature aimed at giving users more information regarding the data each developer is collecting. In the Data Safety section of the Play Store users can also be informed on whether developers share their data as well as their security practices, such as if they choose to encrypt users’ data during the transit. Users will have access to information about whether a developer is in line with Google Play’s Families Policy and if the security practices followed by the developers have received third-party validation.

“The Data safety section on Google Play is a simple way for you to help people understand what user data your app collects or shares, as well as showcase your app’s key privacy and security practices. This information helps users make more informed choices when deciding which apps to install,” Google announced.

By July 20, 2022, all developers must declare how they collect and handle user data for the apps they publish on Google Play and provide details about how they protect this data through security practices like encryption. This includes data collected and handled through any third-party libraries or SDKs used in their apps.

“We work closely with developers to keep Google Play a safe, trusted space for billions of people to enjoy the latest Android apps. Today, we’re pre-announcing an upcoming safety section in Google Play that will help people understand the data an app collects or shares, if that data is secured, and additional details that impact privacy and security,” Google noted. “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 privacy labels are part of Google’s attempt to ensure that Play Store apps and developers respect user privacy. Recently, the company has presented its plans to reduce the available outdated apps on Google Play to ensure that all the available apps are using Android’s most updated privacy and security features.

“Google Play will introduce a policy that requires developers to provide accurate information. If we find that a developer has misrepresented the data they’ve provided and is in violation of the policy, we will require the developer to fix it. Apps that don’t become compliant will be subject to policy enforcement,” said Google. “We’re committed to ensuring that developers have plenty of time to prepare. This summer, we’ll share the new policy requirements and resources, including detailed guidance on app privacy policies. Starting Q2 2022, new app submissions and app updates must include this information”.

George Mavridis is a freelance journalist and writer based in Greece. His work primarily covers tech, innovation, social media, digital communication, and politics. He graduated from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki with a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication. Also, he holds an MA in Media and Communication Studies from the Malmö University of Sweden and an MA in Digital Humanities from the Linnaeus University of Sweden.