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Google will warn if Android apps are harvesting data, even outside the Play Store

Google will warn if Android apps are harvesting data, even outside the Play Store

GOOGLE IS to crack down on Android apps that aren’t transparent about their data collection – even if they weren’t actually downloaded from the Play Store.

Google’s security blog explains: “Safe Browsing warnings will appear on apps and websites leading to apps that collect a user’s personal data without their consent.”

“These data collection requirements apply to all functions of the app. For example, during analytics and crash reportings, (sic) the list of installed packages unrelated to the app may not be transmitted from the device without prominent disclosure and affirmative consent,” added Paul Stanton of Google’s Safe Browsing Team.

The announcement specifies that this will apply to all apps, whether from Google Play or not.

There is also a new set of guidelines on how devs should be handling user data and providing disclosure.

The new rules will kick in in 60 days, and webmasters will have to conform to the new rules in order to have the warnings removed.

If a developer or webmaster believes that the errors are themselves an error, the can request a review – but they tend to take a while.

Google’s Play Store has been fighting a running battle with developers for some time. On one hand, it has always been keen to keep the Store as open as possible, in deference to Apple’s App Store which has extreme vetting processes.

But that has led to outbreaks of malware in apps, and a significant number of apps which collect more data than they should, or that the user is aware of.

This is compounded by the number of third-party app stores aimed at countries where Google Play isn’t operating or people looking for Warez editions (ie with cheats) of popular apps that turn out to have hidden payloads of data collection or even cryptocurrency mining.

Apps will now be required to include a privacy policy within the app and ” the app must prominently highlight how the user data will be used and have the user provide affirmative consent for such use.”. µ

Source : Inquirer

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