Published: Tue, December 05, 2017
Research | By Francis Brooks

Google adds more browsing security to your Android device

Google adds more browsing security to your Android device

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. 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. If the data is not functional to the working of the app, an explanation will be required so that the user can choose to give or not give access.

Google will now require apps to show a privacy policy on the device when the software is handling personal data such as phone number or email address.

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

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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. And if the data collected by this app doesn't relate to its functionality, the app will have to explain how this data will be used, after which the user can provide his/her consent. So if you're a developer and your app collects personal data, you have a little under two months to get your apps to comply with these new rules. App developers caught by the new Safe Browsing warnings can request an app review on the App Verifications and Appeals support page. Under a new "Unwanted Software Policy" announced late last week, Google will now show warnings when apps acquired in this manner tamper with personal data.

Google says these new rules also apply to basic operations such as user data collection for analytics and crash reporting purposes, and not necessarily for personal data alone. Interestingly, it does not matter whether apps are featured in Google Play or they come via other marketplaces.

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