Google to start having developers submit privacy polices for apps

Google PRivacy - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

I can’t tell you the number of times I look through an apps’ reviews after an update changed permissions to see people flipping out about the change. It doesn’t seem to matter what the change is, or how it benefits the app, if the permissions change some people just aren’t happy. Take the latest update for Dropbox as an example. In the update they clearly stated: “We now store your Dropbox credentials in Android’s secure Account Manager. This means Dropbox can’t be installed on your SD Card and requires the “Your Accounts” permissions. These permissions only allow us to access accounts we create.” Seems pretty straightforward to me, they are making Dropbox more secure which has been some people’s gripe with Dropbox from the beginning, a lack of security. Immediately after the update there was dozens of hateful reviews stating things like “change the permissions back or I’m uninstalling!!!” or “why does this need access to my accounts?!?” Apparently people can’t read when they clearly state the reasons behind the change, and that your information is now more secure not less.

All app developers aren’t as straightforward as Dropbox is however. There are some apps I have run across and when I look at the permissions I scratch my head and wonder why they need access to all that stuff. Some things are no-nonsense, like games needing access to your phone. It’s not so they can make calls, but rather know when you are receiving one, pause your game, and allow the phone to ring. A good practice is if you don’t know why a certain app needs a certain permission, it might be best to not install that app. Google is in the process of helping explain what developers are going to do with your information.

Starting now when a developer fills out the form to submit a new app, there will be a line for them to add a privacy policy. Right now it will just be a developer tool, that is not available to the public through the Play Store, but I’m sure that it will be made public in the future, allowing you to see what a developer will be doing with your information before you install their app. This can be nothing but a positive thing, and I see it being made mandatory for all apps pretty quickly.

The reason this whole privacy policy thing is even coming about is due to an agreement all the major mobile players made with the California Attorney General. Apple, Amazon, HP, Google, Microsoft, RIM, and others have agreed to make app privacy policies available before downloading an app. Failure to comply with this agreement can bring legal punishments to developers that do not comply with their stated privacy policies. This is a great move, and one that means hopefully we will know exactly what an app is going to do with our personal information before we even install it.

[The Next Web]

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Bryan Faulkner

Bryan Faulkner is a former associate editor at Pocketables. He loves to find new ways to use his tablets while working as the Tech Director at his local church. Mixing sound from the iPad is his newest obsession. He currently has a pair of HP TouchPads, an iPad 2, a decommissioned HTC EVO 4G, and a Samsung Galaxy Note II to tinker with.

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