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Google Play Store helps find the apps invading your privacy

Google has implemented a feature that requires app makers to disclose what data their apps are taking from users. Starting today, Android users will be able to see specific information about their apps’ data collection through the Google Play Store. The data is accessible in the Play Store via the “Data Safety” tab listed in the information section for all apps.

With Google’s announcement that the feature’s rollout is live, the company notes that not all apps will be showing what privacy data they collect immediately. App makers have until July 20, 2022, to provide the Play Store with privacy information, making the feature something of a gradual rollout. It’s likely that apps that take more types of data (like social media apps) will take longer to post the required info due to the sheer number of data points they collect when compared to something simpler such as an offline game.

A phone displaying the Play Store's new Data Privacy tab new to text that reads, "get more information about how an app uses data."

The “Data Safety” tab in the Play Store is meant to provide crucial information to Android users concerned over data collection. Google breaks down the information into five key categories:

  1. If an app is collecting data and, if so, why.
  2. If the app is sharing collected data with “third parties.”
  3. What security measures the app maker has in place to protect the collected data and if app owners can request data deletion.
  4. If the app is following the Google Play Family Policy to protect children’s information.
  5. If the app’s security measures meet the Mobile Application Security Verification Standard.

This has been a long time coming, as Google announced its plans to make Android owners more involved with their data collection in May 2021. The feature is comparable to the “App Privacy” section in the iOS App Store, which also requires developers to share their data-collection information. While the two app stores’ policies differ, the win here is that more users are getting access to how their data is being handled, which is always a good thing.

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