Google urges developers to submit a privacy policy for their Android apps

Google urges developers to submit a privacy policy for their Android apps

Over the past few weeks we’ve seen both iOS and Android apps come under fire for their handling of customer data. Several weeks of controversy surrounding the way that applications were handling customer data likely contributed to Google being more proactive about app privacy.

Now, Google has added a field for developers to fill out their privacy policy when submitting an app to the Google Play market, and made the addition of a clear policy a recommended addition for developers. Google says that the addition of a privacy policy is just a developer tool at the moment but these policies will be exposed to Play market customers in the future, allowing them to see this policy before downloading the app.

Apple, Microsoft, HP, Amazon, Google and RIM, among other companies, have already committed to an agreement with the California Attorney General to disclose app privacy policies before downloading. The agreement, while voluntary on the part of the companies, does carry a penalty:

If developers do not comply with their stated privacy policies, they can be prosecuted under California’s Unfair Competition Law and/or False Advertising Law.

It seems likely that this move by Google is part of an attempt to comply with this request. Apple currently does not expose privacy policies of apps to users before download, providing only a link to the website of an app developer, who may post it there.

Developers of Android apps will likely want to get a policy established and filled out appropriately, because we don’t see this thing staying optional for very long. Apple has yet to make any moves to add a way for developers to enter a privacy policy yet either, but that can’t be too far off.

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