Google Play Store ‘App Privacy Nutrition Labels’ seem to focus on the ‘how’ and ‘what’ user data is collected instead of ‘why’?

Google Play App Privacy Labels
Google Play App Privacy Labels to arrive next year. Pic credit: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

Google seems serious about deploying solutions that respect Android smartphone users’ privacy. However, the new “Safety” section in Google Play seems to focus on how developers handle collected user data.

Google won’t be deploying a notification prompt to Android smartphone users which asks for their consent about data collection. Instead, the search giant will tweak the “Privacy Nutrition Labels” to educate users about data collection, storage, and processing practices.

Google Play Store to display Privacy Labels for apps within the new “Safety” section:

Following Apple Inc.’s footsteps, Google will start displaying “Privacy Labels” for apps, services, and games. However, the format, content, and rules will differ.

Google Play Store will mandate app developers to compile and insert information about the types of data they collect. Additionally, developers will have to offer information about how the platform stores and uses the collected data.

Developers would need to share what sort of personal information their apps collect such as users’ names or emails, and whether the app collects information from the phone, like the user’s precise location, their media files, or contacts. Apps will also need to explain how the app uses that information — for example, for enhancing the app’s functionality or for personalization purposes.

There could be a few developers who prioritize security and privacy practices. Such developers would be able to highlight the same in their app listing.

Google has indicated it will add new elements that detail whether the app uses security practices like data encryption; if the app follows Google’s Families policy, related to child safety; if the app’s safety section has been verified by an independent third party; whether the app needs data to function or allows users to choose whether or not to share data; and whether the developer agrees to delete user data when a user uninstalls the app in question.

Google Play Privacy Labels do not focus on ‘What’ but the ‘Trust’ aspect of data collection practices:

Google may be inspired by Apple’s Privacy Labels, but there are quite a few fundamental differences. These differences stem from the fact that Apple is primarily a hardware and device maker while Google’s businesses absolutely need user data to survive and grow.

Apple’s App Privacy Labels focus on what data is being collected for tracking purposes and what’s linked to the end-user. Meanwhile, Google’s Privacy Labels seem to reassure people that data collection practices are safe and developers handle user data responsibly and with reverence.

Essentially, Google seems to be setting up a stage where app developers can make a convincing argument about why they are collecting data. Google will, however, allow independent verification of app data labels.

If some trusted or reputed third-party companies end up verifying the information, app developers could prove to users that the disclosures aren’t lies. This tactic perhaps stems from the fact that Apple iOS app developers were accused of providing inaccurate information, and more seriously, they seemed to be getting away with it.

Apple Inc.’s user data and privacy initiatives go way beyond Google’s counterpart. The iPhone maker recently started mandating app developers must seek user permission before collecting data through tracking.

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