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

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The updated policy will help Google to reduce unwanted and harmful behavior on Android. Apps can also be submitted for manual review if a developer feels their use of data collection falls within the guidelines.

Once the user has installed the app on their Android device, the app will need to prompt a privacy policy that explicitly mentions what kind of data it procures from the user.

The requirements apply to all Android applications that are available via Google's Play store as well as those downloaded to Android devices from outside the mobile app store.

As part of this expanded enforcement, Google Safe Browsing will show warnings on apps and on websites leading to apps that collect personal data without a user's consent, wrote Paul Stanton, part of the safe browsing team at Google.

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Developers of apps that collect user data for purposes unrelated to the application's core function will now have to spell out why they are collecting the data and how they plan on using it. Users will need to provide their consent before the application can be used. For instance, the app will not be allowed to send crash reports and analytics reports without the consent of the owner.

Developers have 60 days to get with the programme before Google starts rolling it out.

It must also be displayed within the normal usage of the app and not be buried in settings. The company says that if app developers refuse to comply, Google will display a warning of its own.

Google notes that two common violations are when an app doesn't treat a user's installed apps as personal or sensitive user data and when an app doesn't treat the user's phone or contact book as personal data. In case apps don't follow it, Google Play Protect will show a warning when such app tries to collect your personal data without notifying you. Interestingly, it does not matter whether apps are featured in Google Play or they come via other marketplaces.

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