Google has started to crack down on apps collecting information without user consent, and unless Android app developers inform users about data gathering properly, Google will interfere and warn users itself. Developers are given two months to fix the issues and update their permissions list to include data collection. If they do not comply, users will see warnings about both Google Play and non-Play apps and their questionable behavior, likely prompting them to delete the apps. With these changes, Google is aiming to give users more privacy and control over their data.
Google to warn users about apps collecting data
A blog post, released by Google’s Safe Browsing Team, explains that Google Safe Browsing will start showing “warnings on apps and on websites leading to apps that collect a user’s personal data without their consent”. If app developers ignore Google’s new regulations, after 60 days users will start seeing warnings.
App developers have two months to fix issues
Both Google Play and non-Play apps need to revise their apps to comply with the policy within 60 days from December 1st, 2017. Therefore, from February, 2018 users will start seeing the warnings. Users will not only be warned about apps, but also websites. If a website is noticed to distribute apps collecting information without consent, an alert will appear, informing users that the site is promoting unwanted apps. These warning will likely encourage users to not install an app, or delete it if it was already installed.
Unless developers want to lose their customers, they will need to comply. Apps are known to sneakily collect user information, and these new regulations will give users more control over their data gathering.
Guidelines for how Google Play apps should handle user data and provide disclosure can be found here and here. If in 60 days apps or sites are showing the warnings, webmasters should refer to the guidance in the Unwanted Software Help Center, while developers will be able to find information on app reviews here.