Google will make Android apps tell users about data collection

The Google Play safety section will also tell users if an app encrypts data. PHOTO: REUTERS

MOUNTAIN VIEW (BLOOMBERG) - Google said it will create a new safety section in its Play mobile-app store that will let Android smartphone users see what data developers collect about them and share, plus give access to additional privacy and security information.

Android app developers have until the second quarter of 2022 to declare this information, the Alphabet unit said Thursday (May 6) in a blog post. Users will begin seeing the safety section in Google Play sometime in the first three months of 2022.

The transparency push echoes rival Apple's decision in 2020 to compel app-makers to disclose what information they gather, and what they do with it.

Apple's latest mobile software update, iOS 14.5, includes an App Tracking Transparency feature, which requires users to opt in to being tracked by apps for personalised advertising. Developers expect to lose revenue from this change because most consumers will not agree to have their data collected.

Google, which itself is dependent on advertising revenue, has taken a more measured approach. The Internet search giant is discussing how it can limit data collection and cross-app tracking on the Android operating system in a way that is less stringent than Apple's solution, Bloomberg has reported.

The Google Play safety section will also tell users if an app encrypts data, if it follows Google's policies for families and children, whether users have a choice in sharing information, and whether users can request data deletion if they uninstall an app.

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