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Google may soon delete millions of apps from the Play Store

Why it matters to you

The Google Play Store will soon be much easier to search through -- and potentially much safer to use.

The Google Play Store could shortly be a whole lot smaller. Google has been sending notices out to developers around the world saying that it will soon “limit visibility” or even totally remove apps from the Play Store that violate Google’s User Data Policy.

So why are so many developers getting the notice? Well, most of them seem to have one issue in common: the lack of a privacy policy. According to Google’s User Data Policy, developers have to submit a valid privacy policy, especially when that app handles sensitive information. Those developers will now have to submit a valid privacy policy both on the Google Play Store listing and within the app.

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“Google Play requires developers to provide a valid privacy policy when the app requests or handles sensitive user or device information,” says the notice, according to a report from VentureBeat. “Your app requests sensitive permissions (e.g. camera, microphone, accounts, contacts, or phone) or user data, but does not include a valid privacy policy.”

Even though the move may get rid of a ton of apps, it could wind up making the Play Store more useful. There are thousands upon thousands of so-called “zombie apps” that have been around for years without being updated, and many of those have been rendered useless by newer versions of Android. Not only that, but an overly crowded Play Store often makes it hard to find what you’re looking for.

It won’t just be zombie apps that get removed — some developers might not be motivated to include a privacy policy for badly performing apps, so many of those apps will likely disappear as well.

Still, it’ll be a while before anything changes on the Play Store — Google has given developers until March 15 to add the privacy policy, so it will be at least a month before we see a cleaner store.