Science

Google Safe Browsing Extends to Android Apps Requiring User and Device Data

Google Safe Browsing Extends to Android Apps Requiring User and Device Data

Google is giving developers two months to ensure their apps don't deviate from its Unwanted Software policy.

Google plans to show these warnings via the Google Play Protect service that's built into the official Play Store app. That'll involve more strictly enforcing the company's unwanted software policy, which already demands that app developers be transparent with users when collecting their personal information. These will now be required to prompt users and to provide their own privacy policy in the app. The rules stipulate that any form of data collection could trigger a Safe Browsing warning, including activity where the developer is using it to improve an app. Information uploaded as part of application logs or crash reports could result in a flag for the publisher if it contains user details that haven't been disclosed.

In other words, the warnings may be applied to sites and software that promote apps that violate its policy, as well as the offending apps themselves. The app also needs to prominently explain how user data will be used.

The new policy is applicable to all functions of an app. This will apply at all times; for instance, the list of installed apps on your device can not be sent from your device during a crash report without consent. If the requirements listed are not met, warnings may be shown on user devices through Google Play Protect or on webpages that lead to these apps.

For example, the in-app disclosure must be shown within the app itself and not just the Play Store listing or on a website. To gain consent, the user will need to tap to accept or tick a check-box. Notably, these new guidelines will prevent apps from collecting user data which is not necessary.

New and existing applications will have 60 days to conform to these new rules, or developers risk their app displaying the new message asking for consent.

Google Safe Browsing has proven to be quite effective in the past.