Android apps

Google announced plans to crack down on Android applications that fail to warn users when they are collecting personal data.

The OS maker is giving app developers 60 days to fix their issues and update apps with notifications of their full practices. In case app developers fail to comply, Google will take it upon itself to warn users.

Google to show warnings on Play and non-Play app markets

Google plans to show these warnings via the Google Play Protect service that's built into the official Play Store app. After 60 days, Google Play Protect will warn users about apps installed on their phones and when users try to install new apps that fail to disclose user data collection practices.

Google will also show warnings inside Chrome for Android when users are trying to access third-party websites that offer Android apps for download. Inside Chrome, this alert will appear as a Safe Browsing error before the user gets to access a site hosting the infringing app.

In order to avoid Google's ban hammer, Android app developers must follow a series of rules regarding user data collection and disclosure.

"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," Google explained.

"Additionally, if an app collects and transmits personal data unrelated to the functionality of the app then, prior to collection and transmission, the app must prominently highlight how the user data will be used and have the user provide affirmative consent for such use," the company added.

Analytics services are the most affected

Google says these new rules also apply to basic operations such as user data collection for analytics and crash reporting purposes, and not necessarily for personal data alone. This also means device technical details.

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

Google's new policy comes days after a report identified 44 different trackers embedded in over 300 apps, most of which users had no clue they were included with their apps.

Last week, Google also updated its Google Play Developer Policy Center to ban Android apps from the Play Store that show ads on the lockscreen. The only exception to this rule are apps specifically designed to customize the lockscreen.