Google Play mimics Apple's App Tracking Transparency with 'safety' section
Late last year, Apple introduced privacy labels for its App Store listings. Now, Google has pre-announced its plans to implement something similar. The search giant said it would add a new "safety" section to Google Play sometime next year. This section will require application developers to specify what sort of data their apps collect, how it is stored, and how it is used.
Developers will declare data being collected, how it is used
Discussing data collection and storage, Google said that it will ask developers to specifically declare the collection of approximate or precise location, contacts, names, email addresses, photos and videos, audio, and files stored on the device. Additionally, developers must tell users if the collected data is essential for the app's functionality or if it contributes to personalization.
Apps can highlight security policies that they're compliant with
Google explained that the safety section will contain new elements that let developers highlight security policies that the app follows such as encryption or Google's Families policy that indicates an app is safe for kids. The section will also let developers tell users if they can control data sharing and request data deletion upon uninstallation.
Google overshot Apple's deadline for providing privacy labels
Google said that these announcements have been made well in advance, so developers can work accordingly. Ironically, when Apple announced privacy labels, many Google apps stopped receiving updates for a while after the implementation deadline passed since Google hadn't added privacy labels for its apps. However, Apple's privacy labels and Google's upcoming safety section differ in a few key ways.
Although user-centric, Apple and Google have taken different approaches
Apple's feature reportedly focuses on data collected for advertisement tracking and what's linked to the user. Google's approach lets the users decide if the collected data is being managed responsibly. Interestingly, Google will allow app data handling practices to be independently audited. If these verifications are conducted by reputed names, it could further convince users that they aren't being lied to.
Google suggests safety section will be functional by Q2 2022
An infographic (pictured) accompanying Google's announcement suggests that the safety section on Google Play will be fully functional by the second quarter of 2022. The announcement clarified that all applications, including Google's own, will have to declare information by then. Additionally, Google hasn't detailed how non-compliant apps will be subject to policy enforcement. It remains to be seen how consumers react to Google's idea.