Google to clamp down on Android app snooping

Google will start to display warnings on Android devices and webpages about third-party apps that collect personal data without users’ consent, in an effort to prevent “unwanted and harmful” behaviour.

From February next year, Android apps that handle personal data such as phone numbers and email addresses, as well as device data, will be required to prompt users for permission to collect the information.

They must also ask a user’s permission before they collect and transmit personal data that’s unrelated to the functionality of the program, and clearly and prominently explain how the information will be used. The app provider’s privacy policy must also be displayed within the application.

Users will be warned through Google’s safe browsing feature about apps that collect personal data without consent.

Safe browsing will also be used to warn users about websites that lead to apps that collect personal information without first seeking a user’s consent.

Google said the new requirements are part of an expanded enforcement of its unwanted software policy, which aims to protect users from deceptive software.

The company did not say whether the new policy of privacy violation warnings will apply to its own software as well.

Recent research by Yale University’s Privacy Lab and Exodus Privacy showed that three quarters of Android apps contain trackers that collect user data for targeted advertising, to glean their locations, and to analyse behaviour.

Popular apps such as Uber, Spotify, and Tinder use Google’s Crashlytics crash reporting feature to access insights into people’s behaviour.

This amounts to “clandestine surveillance software that is unknown to Android users at the time of app installation,” Yale’s Privacy Labs wrote in its report.

Culled from Here

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