Google Cracking Down On All Android Apps That Collect Unwanted Info

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To ensure better privacy and transparency for Android users, Google has introduced major changes to its Unwanted Software Policy. The changes, part of Google Safe Browsing, cover Android apps both on and off the Google Play Store, and want developers to give their own privacy policies after installation.

Two months deadline for developers

Changes to Google’s Unwanted Software Policy ensures that after an app is installed, it should prompt a privacy policy detailing the kind of user data it is using. Further, if the data is in no way related to the working of the app, the developers are required to give a proper explanation so that a user can choose to allow it access or not.

“These requirements apply to apps in Google Play and non-Play app markets. The Google Play team has also published guidelines for how Play apps should handle user data and provide disclosure,” Google said, in a blog post.

These changes will apply in all scenarios when the app collects personal or device data, even when the app needs to send crash reports. Developers have two months time to comply with Google’s Software policy. If the apps continue to ignore the new changes after the stipulated time, Google will give out Safe Browsing full-page warnings, which would encourage users not to use the specific app.

In a blog post, Google notes that the Safe Browsing warnings will appear “on apps and on websites leading to apps that collect a user’s personal data without their consent.” This means, the warnings will also be shown on sites and software that promote the offending apps.

Google Safe Browsing – other recent changes

The new changes are similar to an August update to the Personal and Sensitive Information section of Google’s Developer Policy Center. The update required the developers to prominently disclose if their app collects and transfers user data not related to the app’s main functionality. Further, the update wanted developers to show these details within the normal usage of the app and not hide them in the settings. Also, these details must not be placed under the terms of service or privacy policy, and must not be shown along with non-privacy disclosures.

In recent times, Google Safe Browsing has had a positive impact in lowering the unwanted and malicious mobile behavior in the Android ecosystem. Recently, Gmail got anti-phishing checks, which gives out Safe Browsing warnings before a user clicks on a malicious link. In September, the search giant announced that over three billion devices now use Safe Browsing.

New app to curb data use

Separately, Google has launched a new Android app that helps to curb data usage. This new app will be very helpful to those who are always traveling. Google’s new Android app, called Datally, helps users know the apps that are eating away data. Further, the app also makes suggestions of how to lower the data usage, including suggesting nearby Wi-Fi networks.

Overall, the new app offers the same data-conservation options, which are already available to users, but are hidden under several other menu options, notes Fortune. The new app also has a kill button, which stops all data usage in the background, except for the app that you are currently using.

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