Google to Flag Apps That Snoop Without Permission

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The updated policy will help Google to reduce unwanted and harmful behavior on Android.

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

Google is introducing changes to its Safe Browsing policies, requiring Android apps to display their own privacy warning if they collect users' personal data. This includes putting the complete text of the privacy policy in the app itself. "Additionally, if an app collects and transmits personal data unrelated to the functionality of the app then, prior to collection and transmission, the app must prominently highlight how the user data will be used and have the user provide affirmative consent for such use".

The new policy is applicable to all functions of an app. The regulations will come into place in the next "60 days" - let's say, February 1- and a Safe Browsing/ Google Play Protect warning will be shown on all pages leading to the non-compliant apps. If the requirements listed are not met, warnings may be shown on user devices through Google Play Protect or on webpages that lead to these apps.

It must also be displayed within the normal usage of the app and not be buried in settings.

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The affirmative consent request dialog needs to be presented in a clear and unambiguous way.

In order to avoid Google's ban hammer, Android app developers must follow a series of rules regarding user data collection and disclosure.

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

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.

The Safe Browsing team is giving developers 60 days to update their apps towards this direction.