Google is previewing the Android version of Apple's app nutrition labels

Google is adding a “Privacy and Security” section to the Play Store that shares the same common goal as app nutrition labels in the App Store.

Google takes a sheet of Apple’s book by adding a security section in Google Play that informs users about an Android app’s data collection behavior, security aspect, and certification as secure. The plans were originally announced by Google in May this year and are similar to the app nutrition labels that are now in use in the App Store. As a reminder, these app nutrition labels were introduced in January and are part of Apple’s new app tracking transparency rules announced at WWDC last year.

The labels are designed to give users a clearer picture of how an app collects and shares data, what permissions it needs, and what security protocols it has. In the App Store listings, these details are now displayed in two separate sections – data that is used to keep track of you and data that is associated with you. The former contains details about data that can be used to track users like contact information and identifiers, while the latter contains data that an app collects like location, search history, etc. In fact, Apple has already started disapproving apps that try this Bending rules and showing invasive behavior.

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Google would like to implement a similar system to demonstrate the general security of an app to users before proceeding with the installation process. The new section “Privacy and Security” in the Play Store listing of an app is required to disclose some details about behavior with data encryption, compliance with the Google family guideline and independent verification of security. The section also gives an overview of the data collected, how this data is used and whether this data collection is optional or mandatory for the use of the app. This disclosure gives users an opportunity to assess whether they are happy with the data collection and tracking behavior of an app before installing it.

A great initiative that needs careful implementation

Google requires all developers to disclose the above information. Otherwise an app will be rejected. In the past, only apps that collected sensitive user data had to reveal details about their data collection behavior. The company also entrusts developers to provide accurate information about their apps. However, Google has not disclosed any information about possible penalties if developers disclose misleading information about their app in the privacy and security section of an app’s Play Store listing.

An investigation by the Washington Post earlier this year found that some developers provided misleading information for their apps and that Apple has not been actively reviewing everything for apps listed on the App Store. Google faces a daunting task as it needs to carefully examine the details provided by the developers to ensure that the latest policy change is doing its job. Developers can start submitting information about their apps from October this year, and it will be mandatory in April 2022. If this information is not approved by Google before the deadline, new app submissions and software updates will be blocked.

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Source: Android Developer Blog

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About the author

Nadeem Sarwar
(95 articles published)

Nadeem has been writing about consumer technology for over three years and has worked with names like NDTV and Pocketnow in the past. In addition to covering the latest news, he has experience testing the latest phones and laptops. If he’s not writing, you can fail him on Doom Eternal.

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