Google’s coming out with a new layer of app transparency in the form of a new information section for apps in the Play Store. Called the ‘Data Safety Section’, it’s intended to help users better protect their personal information by letting them know how an app plans to use it before you download it.
Google spills the beans
In essence, the Data Safety Section will provide users with relevant information on what apps will ask permission for once you’ve downloaded them, why they need it, and what they plan to do with it once you’ve opted. Now you can finally find out why the heck the weather app needs permission to make and manage phone calls.
The section will outline to users exactly what functions apps will need permissions for and why, what data it collects from you (location, contacts, etc.), whether it’s for function or personalisation purposes, and whether any of this is opt-in or mandatory. Additionally, it’ll let users know what kind of security methods, like end-to-end encryption and such, apps have in place.
Now, this works on an honour system, meaning that devs are required to submit these details to Google before the section gets added to the store. If a developer decides it would rather its data collection and usage practices remain mysterious, they’re welcome too. But, in a more privacy-conscious environment, an app with a “No information available” sticker on it sidled up alongside forthcoming competitors is sure to drive prospective downloaders away.
According to a developer blog post, Google has put out a Data safety form in the Play Console, which developers can now fill out in preparation for the addition of the Data Safety section. If the information they provide is approved by Google, it’ll be added to their app’s Play Store page once the Data Safety section goes live. Facebook’s probably going to spend a long time filling out its form.
The Data Safety section should start appearing on the app store sometime early next year, once Google’s received a substantial amount of forms from its app devs.