Google Safe Browsing Extends to Android Apps Requiring User and Device Data

05 December, 2017, 01:44 | Author: Sam Montgomery
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"Safe Browsing warnings will appear on apps and websites leading to apps that collect a user's personal data without their consent", explains a security blog written by Paul Stanton of Google's Safe Browsing Team.

Any apps that fail to display a custom privacy policy will find that their Play Store listing is slapped with a warning.

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.

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.

Installing apps from external sources can lead you to an infection because apps aren't necessarily validated by store approval teams. "For example, during analytics and crash reportings, (sic) the list of installed packages unrelated to the app may not be transmitted from the device without prominent disclosure and affirmative consent". All that users will see is a warning, and one that doesn't quite stop them from using the app in the first place.

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Google will also show warnings inside Chrome for Android when users are trying to access third-party websites that offer Android apps for download.

The company has updated its Unwanted Software Policy page and the guidance page on how app developers should handle user data.

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

It must also be displayed within the normal usage of the app and not be buried in settings. Notably, these new guidelines will prevent apps from collecting user data which is not necessary. This gives Android developers about two months to update their apps and make them compliant with the new rule.

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