Science

Google's new guidelines will prevent apps from collecting unnecessary user data

Google's new guidelines will prevent apps from collecting unnecessary user data

Any apps that fail to display a custom privacy policy will find that their Play Store listing is slapped with a warning.

"These data collection requirements apply to all functions of the app".

From February next year, Android apps that handle personal data such as phone numbers and email addresses, as well as device data, will be required to prompt users for permission to collect the information.

More importantly, this policy will extend to apps that have not been downloaded from the Google Play Store.

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Google's Safe Browsing team is tamping down on "unwanted and harmful" mobile activity on Android, Google said on Friday. Google Safe Browsing will now show warnings on apps - and even on websites leading to app installations - for apps that collect a user's personal data without consent. Further, if the apps save information that is not necessary they are needed to explain users how the data is going to be used. Also, if these apps collect personal data unrelated to the functionality of the app - the developers must highlight this prior to collection and transmission, so the user knows how the data will be used.

Google says these new rules also apply to basic operations such as user data collection for analytics and crash reporting purposes, and not necessarily for personal data alone. It also can't be placed in a privacy policy or terms of service and must not be bundled with non-privacy disclosures. Developers have 60 days to implement the requested changes before Google puts the warning button on their apps. So if you're a developer and your app collects personal data, you have a little under two months to get your apps to comply with these new rules.

Websites owners that attract a Safe Browsing warning will need to follow the usual processes in the Search Console if they want to resolve the warnings.