Last week, Google started rolling out its new Data Security screen widely on the Play Store, and it caused quite a stir in the tech world when we discovered that the new section was a replacing To display the normal app permissions, not a new screen in addition to them. After the general negative reaction to the news, the official Android developers Twitter account Promise to return the change and allow the permissions screen to be displayed along with the new data security view.
Data Security is a new section of the Play Store that allows developers to list what data an app collects, how that data is stored, and who the data is shared with. You can see how Google came to the conclusion that data security was an acceptable alternative to the app’s permissions menu. There’s a lot of overlap in the two sections – for example, you’ll likely see “location” on both screens if an app requests your location. The problem is with Google implementing these two screens. The app permissions list is a computer-generated factual record of the permissions an app can request, while the data security section is written by the developer. You can’t cheat in the app’s permissions menu, while Data Safety works on the Honor system.
Here’s Google’s full statement:
Privacy and transparency are core values of the Android community. We’ve heard your feedback that you find the App Permissions section of Google Play useful, and we’ve decided to bring it back. App Permissions section will be back soon. The Data Security section gives users a simplified view of how the app collects, shares, and secures user data, but we also want to make the app’s permissions information easy to view for users to understand the app’s ability to access specific data and actions as well. We will continue to receive feedback and work closely with the developer community to prioritize data privacy and transparency for users.
Google is a very data-hungry company, and removing the permissions screen has been another piece of paper for people trying to protect their privacy. Rolling back the permissions screen is a fix for the aids, and it still seems like Google should only apply permission disclosure to the data security screen and then ask developers to add details about why the data is being collected and how it is stored. Google has already built an automated system to detect permissions, and instead of getting rid of everything, it can just let developers add details to it.
While the data security department relies on developers not lying, Google says it “may take appropriate action” if it “realizes there is a discrepancy” in the developer’s description. Your opinion of the data security section depends on what you think about Google’s ability to monitor its App Store. There is plenty of evidence that Google often leaves the Play Store on autopilot.
List image from Google Play Store
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