Google launches 'data safety' feature to tell Android users how their info is being used

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Developers will be required to complete the data safety section by late July. Photo credit: Getty Images

A new feature from Google aims to ensure New Zealanders get more accurate information about how apps in its Play store collect, share and secure their data.

"We work hard to keep Google Play a safe, trusted space for people to enjoy the latest Android apps," Suzanne Frey, Google's Chief Privacy Officer wrote in a blog post.

"Today, we're launching a new feature, the data safety section, where developers will be required to give people more information about how apps collect, share and secure users' data."

The data safety section will start appearing in Google Play from today, with app developers required to complete the section by July 20.

The post doesn't say what will happen to developers who don't provide the information.

The change comes after the company heard from users and app developers that additional context was required beyond just displaying what data is collected.

"Users want to know for what purpose their data is being collected and whether the developer is sharing user data with third parties," Frey wrote.

"In addition, users want to understand how app developers are securing user data after an app is downloaded.

"That's why we designed the data safety section to allow developers to clearly mark what data is being collected and for what purpose it's being used. Users can also see whether the app needs this data to function or if this data collection is optional."

As well as what data is being collected and shared and how it's secured, developers will also be able to say whether the app has committed to following the Families Policy to better protect children in the Play store.

"Apps should help users explore the world, connect with loved ones, do work, learn something new, and more without compromising user safety," Frey wrote.

"The new data safety section, in addition to Google Play's existing safety features, gives people the visibility and control they need to enjoy their apps."

Apple began rolling out increased visibility of privacy practices in 2020, before launching its 'do not track' feature with iOS 14.5 last year.

Google stopped using Apple's tools allowing them to personalise ads in early 2021, before the Cupertino-based company included the new feature.