What you need to know
- Google has finally made the new data safety section in Google Play available starting today.
- The new section provides more transparency about what apps are doing with your data.
- It requires developers to provide information on why their apps are collecting data and whether these apps are shared with third parties.
Google has announced that a new data safety section will start showing up in Play Store app listings today, several months after it first demonstrated the new feature.
The new section, which was shown off in May of last year (opens in new tab), aims to inform users about an app's data collection and handling practices. It requires developers to declare what type of data their apps collect and for what purpose.
Beginning today, you'll notice a variety of information that an app may collect, such as your precise location, contacts, email address, photos, videos, and purchase history.
The section also specifies whether data is encrypted or shared with third parties. You'll also see information on whether you can ask for your data to be removed.
"We heard from users and app developers that displaying the data an app collects, without additional context, is not enough," Google said in a blog post. "Users want to know for what purpose their data is being collected and whether the developer is sharing user data with third parties."
Developers must indicate whether data collection is essential for their apps to function and whether their apps adhere to Google Play's Families Policy in order to protect children from harmful content.
Developers have until July 20 to finish the new section for their apps. This means that the rollout will be gradual, and the new feature will not be visible in all app listings at launch.
Furthermore, while not everyone will notice the new design right away, Google has stated that the new feature will be available on all Android phones (opens in new tab) in the coming weeks.
Every update that developers push for their apps in the future, whether it's a change to their data handling practices or functionality, will appear in the data safety section.
The new design resembles the privacy labels that Apple introduced to the App Store in 2020 (opens in new tab) to provide more transparency about an app's data collection.
It's a welcome change that should give you a more holistic view of what apps are doing with your information, though it remains unclear how Google intends to enforce the new policy for apps that misrepresent how they handle data.
Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.
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