It appears that neglecting to provide such a policy actually goes against Google’s own User Data Policy, according to the Android developers. An email was sent out to developers with flagged apps, letting them know what’s up and how their apps will be treated by the Play Store management if they fail to comply in a timely manner. The email also let developers know that their apps were requesting sensitive information, making them appear clearer in Google’s crossfire. So what counts as sensitive data?
- Data such as content provided by the usage of a phone’s camera;
- Data that comes from the phone’s microphone;
- Data that is a result of scanning or analyzing a user’s accounts and contacts;
- Data pertaining from the user’s phone and phone plan including data traffic.
Basically, personal information that specifically and particularly pertains to a user. Or in another words, personal data. Google did not just scold these developers, but also offered them information on what they need to provide in order to continue operating on Google’s platform.
What happens if they don’t comply?
Apparently, Google is giving developers time until the 15th of March to get this little “assignment” done and turn it in. For those wondering what might happen if a developer just chooses to ignore Google’s warning, the consequences are severe. There are talks about a “limited visibility on the Play Store” type of punishment, but more likely than not, the punishment is complete removal. Developers finding themselves in a defiant mood should know that they are betting their app’s access into the Play Store. The bet is actually a pretty safe one, but not in the favor of developers.
Google’s move comes after Apple has instated something similar for its App Store platform. The iPhone manufacturer has decided that all iOS apps must use HTTPS instead of HTTP. This would be a security measure that sought to bring more security to the platform through adopting a safer alternative to HTTP. Apple did not yet set a deadline or a clear explanation of what the consequences would be in case of not complying in time, but one can easily guess.
A report claims that over 70 popular applications from within Apple’s marketplace currently feature vulnerabilities that can lead to data theft and other serious detriments. This might be the type of thing that pushed Apple into adopting its new security measures, and maybe Google has found a similar drive.
Related blog: Best Ways to Avoid Security Issues in App Development
We need better security