Google Play Store replaces app permissions with information provided by developers
Earlier this year, the Google Play Store launched a new data privacy section that relies on developers to disclose the information their apps collect. But as pointed out Hope editor-in-chief Mishaal Rahman (Going through Ars-Technica), this may mean that Google will no longer show a verified list of permissions it automatically collects from each app, giving developers full control over what they choose (or don’t choose) to disclose to users.
When Google first announced the new data privacy section last year, the company made it clear that its system would rely on information provided by developers. On a support page, Google says developers have until July 20 to complete a data privacy form for their apps, noting that “only” developers must make “complete and accurate disclosures” for their apps.
“Google Play reviews apps according to all policy requirements; however, we cannot determine on behalf of the developers how they handle user data,” Google explains. data security.” Google says it will take “appropriate action” if it finds discrepancies between the information reported by the developers and the app itself.
It should be noted that Apple’s App Store has a similar policy in place for its privacy “nutrition” labels and also requires developers to submit “self-reported summaries” of their apps’ privacy practices. Just like Google does now, Apple trusts developers to provide truthful information about the data their apps collect, which a report by The Washington Job found is often “misleading or downright inaccurate”.
Although Google does not indicate any plan to replace the automatically generated application permissions by the data privacy section, it seems that Google has quietly exchanged it. In a thread on Twitter, Rahman shows screenshots comparing a list of apps with the old “Permissions” section, and another that only has “Data Security.” I noticed the same thing after comparing an archived version of TikTok’s Google Play Store listing from 2021 with the one that’s available now.
With the launch of the Data Security section on Google Play, which will be mandatory for all apps in 1 week, it seems that the list of app permissions is disappearing both in the mobile app and on the web.
— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) July 13, 2022
As Rahman points out, Google stores app permissions in the Play Store, but they’re just not visible from the front-end. He suggests downloading the open-source Play Store alternative, called Aurora, which always shows permissions before downloading an app.
That said, it would make much more sense for Google to show both app permissions and the section on data confidentiality. This way, users could compare the two to confirm that the permissions reported by the developer are consistent with Google’s findings. The edge contacted Google to see if the company planned to reinstate the app permissions section, but did not immediately respond.