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Google to clamp down on Android app snooping

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Google to clamp down on Android app snooping

Striving towards better user privacy, Google's Safe Browsing team on Friday announced new and improved regulations for Android apps that are both on and off the Google Play Store. If an app continues to stray from the policy, users are likely to see its Safe Browsing full-page warnings, which will probably drive users away from the offending software.

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.

Google's Paul Stanton wrote, "Apps handling personal user data (such as user phone number or email), or device data will be required to prompt users and to provide their own privacy policy in the app".

More importantly, this policy will extend to apps that have not been downloaded from the Google Play Store.

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

These requirements will apply during all instances when the app has to collect personal or device data from the user.

The new policy is applicable to all functions of an app.

Users will be warned through Google's safe browsing feature about apps that collect personal data without consent. This will apply at all times; for instance, the list of installed apps on your device can not be sent from your device during a crash report without consent. Any app that collects personal data will be subject to the new rules.

New and existing applications will have 60 days to conform to these new rules, or developers risk their app displaying the new message asking for consent.

Websites owners that attract a Safe Browsing warning will need to follow the usual processes in the Search Console if they want to resolve the warnings.

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