• Google Play Store included a new data privacy section requiring developers to declare the information their applications gather.
  • Google provides developers complete flexibility over what they want to share with users.

The Google Play Store introduced a new data privacy section at the beginning of this year that relies on app developers to reveal the information collected by their apps. Google will no longer display an ascertained list of permissions it automatically contains from each app, giving developers complete control over what they choose (or don’t choose) to disclose to users.

When Google announced the new data privacy policies almost a year ago, the firm made it clear that its system would rely on the information given by developers. A support website by Google mentions that developers have until the 20th of July to fill out a data privacy form for their applications. The page also notes that developers “alone” are responsible for making “full and correct disclosures” for their apps.

Apple’s privacy policy

Apple’s App Store has a similar regulation in place for its privacy “nutrition” labels. It also asks developers to provide “self-reported summaries” regarding the privacy policies of their products. Both these requirements are discussed more below. Apple, like Google, trusts developers to provide truthful information about the data their apps collect. But according to a report published by a leading newspaper, this aspect is often “misleading or flat-out inaccurate.”

Though Google has not specified any plan to replace the automatically generated app permissions with the data privacy section, it seems it swapped it quietly.

Several Screenshots have been shared on Twitter comparing one app listing with the old “permissions” section and one with merely “data safety.” The same was noticed after comparing an archived version of TikTok’s Google Play Store listing from 2021 and the current version.

The default store on most Android devices is Google Play. Hence, the store is widely used by Android users to download new apps and games and to update them.

Till date, Google Play displayed permissions needed by an application to function. A base set of permissions are granted to all applications that are not highlighted; it goes beyond what needs to be specified in the application’s manifest.

While browsing apps or games on Google Play, one may discover that the permissions listing is not available anymore. It appears that Google decided that the new data safety listing is sufficient. Google play app permissions.

As Google has made it mandatory, publishers are now needed to give data safety information. It is up for the publisher to fill out the info. Neither the Google Play application nor the Google Play store website list permissions anymore.

Google has not provided any reason as to why it decided to eliminate the option to view application and game permissions on its Android store. There’s a possibility though that Google thought that the new Data Safety listing was enough or that permissions could scare users.

However, options to display permissions exist. A better option, according to a Twitter user is Aurora, an open-source alternative to Google’s Play Store, shows permissions before downloading an app, which he recommends.

That being said, it would be much more logical for Google to provide both the app permissions and the data privacy area.

The users will be able to validate that the developer-reported permissions are compatible with Google’s results if it displays both the app permissions and the data privacy section. If Google displays both, the users will be able to compare both.

Meanwhile, Google explained, “Google Play reviews apps across all policy requirements; however, we cannot make determinations on behalf of the developers of how they handle user data. Only you possess all the information required to complete the Data safety form.” Google says it will take “appropriate action if it finds any discrepancies between developers’ reported information and the app itself.”