With every major OS release, Android has continued to iterate on privacy and security features. Google announced today that the Play Store is adding a “safety section” that all Android applications must fill out to “help people understand the data an app collects or shares.”

Developers agree that people should have transparency and control over their data. And they want simple ways to communicate app safety that are easy to understand and help users to make informed choices about how their data is handled.

Google Play’s safety section will require Android apps to list what data they collect and store: approximate or precise location, contacts, personal information (e.g. name, email address), photos & videos, audio files, and storage files. Developers will also have to explain how that data is used. This could include app functionality and personalization. 

Additionally, this new component — which Google has yet to visually detail — in Play Store listings will allow developers to optionally go an extra step and specify whether:

  1. The app has security practices, like data encryption
  2. The app follows our Families policy
  3. The app needs this data to function or if users have choice in sharing it
  4. The app’s safety section is verified by an independent third-party
  5. The app enables users to request data deletion, if they decide to uninstall
Google Play safety section

A new Play Store policy will mandate this safety section for all apps — including first-party ones — and there will be enforcement penalties if Google finds that the provided information is misrepresented. Developers are responsible for making sure information is accurate with an option to get third-party verification.

Apps will also have to provide a privacy policy. Overall, this move follows what Apple has done in iOS 14, but Google has similar requirements for extensions in the Chrome Web Store.

That new policy and other detailed resources will be shared this summer. In Q4 of 2021, developers can start declaring this information in the Play Console. End users will start seeing the “safety section” in Google Play at the start of next year, while all new and existing apps will have to provide this information in Q2 of 2022 to be approved.

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