Google presents its proposal ‘Security Section’ for applications on Google Play

Following Apple’s advancements in consumer privacy with initiatives such as App tracking transparency Y App Store privacy labels, Google recently announced its own plans to introduce a new “security section” on Google Play that offers more information about the data that applications collect and share, and other security and privacy details. Today, the company shares for the first time what the user interface of the new section will look like, along with other requirements for developers.

In May, Google explained the security section would be designed to easily communicate to users how applications handle their data, so they can make informed decisions. He said that app developers would have to inform users if their app uses security practices such as data encryption, if it follows Google Play’s family policy for apps targeting children, if users have the option to share data, if the security section of the application has been verified. by a third party, and if the application allowed users to request the deletion of data at the time of uninstallation, among other things.

In the user interface concept that Google debuted today, developers can now see what this feature will look like to the end user.

Image credits: Google

In the security section, users will be able to see the developer’s explanation of the data the app collects, followed by those other details, each with its own icon to serve as a visual indicator.

When users access the summary, they will be able to see other details, such as what data is collected or shared, such as location, contacts, personal information (for example, name, email address), financial information, and more.

They will also be able to see how the data is used, for the functionality of the application, personalization, etc. – and if data collection is optional.

Image credits: Google

Google says it wants to give developers plenty of time to prepare for these Play Store changes, so now it shares more information about the data type definitions, user journey, and policy requirements for the new feature.

It notes that all developers will need to provide a privacy policy by April 2022. Previously, only applications that collected personal and confidential data from users were required to do so. Developers will also need to share accurate and complete information about all data in their security section, including how it is used by third-party libraries and application SDKs. This is in line with what Apple requires for its applications.

Image credits: Google

In October 2021, developers will be able to submit their information on the Google Play Console for review, ahead of the planned launch of the security section on Google Play, which is scheduled for the first quarter of 2022.

The company also notes that it is offering a buffer time after the section launch before applications must have their security section approved by Google. However, the company says that apps will need to be approved by the second quarter of 2022 or they will risk having app submissions or app updates rejected. And if an application does not provide an approved security section, the application will say “No information available.”

The change will help highlight how many active developers are present on Google Play, as those will be the ones who will adopt the new policy and show how their apps collect and use the data.

The question that remains is how strict Google will be in enforcing its new guidelines and how carefully the apps will be reviewed. An interesting note here is that conscientious developers will be able to submit their security section for a third party review and then they will be able to promote it to users interested in the privacy and security of the app data.

This could help address some potential criticism that these security sections are not factual. That has been a problem for Apple since launching its privacy labels on the App Store, in fact. The Washington Post discovered that various apps were displaying false information, making them less useful to the users whose data they were trying to protect.

However, when contacted for comment, Google declined to share any more details on how the third-party verification process will work.

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