Google started rolling out the new ‘Data Security’ screen more widely in the Play Store last week, and it made waves in the tech world when we discovered the new section was a replacement for the normal app permissions display, not a new extra screen. After the negative public reaction to the news, the official developers of Android Twitter account promised to undo the change and let the permissions screen appear side by side with the new data security view.
“Data Safety” is a new Play Store section that allows developers to list what data an app collects, how that data is stored, and with whom the data is shared. You can see how Google came to the conclusion that Data Safety was an acceptable replacement for an app permissions list. The two sections overlap a lot – for example, you’ll probably see “location” on both screens if an app asks for your location. The problem comes from Google’s implementation of these two screens. The App Permissions List is a factual, computer-generated record of the permissions an app can request, while the Data Security section is authored by the developer. You can’t cheat the list of app permissions, while Data Safety works on the honor system.
Here is the full statement from Google:
Privacy and transparency are core values in the Android community. We’ve heard your feedback that you find the app permissions section in Google Play useful, and we’ve decided to reinstate it. The app permissions section will be back shortly. The Data Security section gives users a simplified view of how an app collects, shares, and secures user data, but we also want to make app permissions information easily visible so users understand the ability as well. of an application to access specific restricted data and actions. We will continue to consider feedback and work closely with the developer community to prioritize data privacy and transparency for users.
Google is a very data-intensive company, and removing the permissions screen was another paper cut for people trying to protect their privacy. Reverting the permissions screen is a fix, and it still seems like Google should just apply its permissions detection to the data security screen and then ask the devs to add details about why the data are collected and how they are stored. Google has already built in an automated permission detection system, and instead of throwing it all away, it could just let developers add details to it.
While the data security section depends on developers not lying, Google says it “may take appropriate action” if it “become aware of a discrepancy” in a developer’s description. How you feel about the Data Security section depends on how you feel about Google’s ability to control its own app store. There’s a ton of evidence that Google often leaves the Play Store police on autopilot.
Listing Image By Google Play Store