Crashing apps happen on all platforms, but on Android, they can be more common because of the numbers of variables developers have to work around. To get data on why an app is crashing, developers often collect crash reports once the user reopens an app. However, some developers are getting a warning from Google to change the way those reports are being collected…

When an app crashes, it will sometimes collect data once it is reopened to give the developer some insight into what could have potentially caused the crash. These reports typically don’t include any personal data about the user, but Google is currently enforcing a policy with some developers which requires “Prominent Disclosure” of these reports. An email sent from Google to some developers (via Android Police) details the situation.

This is a notification that your application, XXXXXXXXXXXXX, with package ID xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, is currently in violation of our developer terms. Your app is collecting user data via crash reporting and must comply with the Prominent Disclosure Requirement of our User Data policy.

Action required: Please make modifications to bring your app into compliance within 30 days of the issuance of this notification, or your app will be removed. You may want to consider adding a dialog notifying users of user data collection during crash reporting to ask their consent before the collection occurs.

For those of us who are not developers, a few questions can be raised from this. Most importantly, what is the “Prominent Disclosure Requirement?” Put simply, this is a policy that requires developers to make it very clear to users whether or not an action is to be performed. In this case, that is asking about whether or not the app is allowed to take a crash report.

What does that mean for crash reports? To comply with Google’s policies, developers will need to make a clear dialog come up before the crash report is put together, asking for permission.

It’s unclear why Google is suddenly enforcing this rule, as previously it was not required, but recent security scandals could have something to do with it. Regardless, developers are probably going to want to take a look at how their apps handle this sort of thing, as the penalty for not complying is removal from the Play Store.

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Ben Schoon

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