Google has unveiled an ongoing design for the upcoming security section of the Play Store, which will provide information about an app’s data collection, privacy, and security practices. Announced in May, developers can begin declaring their security information in October until a deadline of April next year. The safety section will currently appear in app descriptions in Q1 2022.
While Google says the design is subject to change, screenshots released today show the safety section above the existing Ratings & Reviews section of a listing. It provides an overview of an app’s data privacy features, including the types of data collected and whether data is encrypted. There is also a “View Details” option to get more details about what the collected data is used for and whether the collection is essential to using the app.
In this section, developers “can give a user a deeper understanding of their privacy and security practices, explaining what data the app may collect and why — all before a user installs the app,” Google says. If developers have not yet provided the information by the time the section begins to appear, a “No Information Available” message will appear in its place in the list. Ultimately, apps that don’t provide the information may see their updates blocked, Google has previously said.
Google’s security portion — which will be required for all third-party and first-party Google apps — follows the introduction of very similar “privacy labels” in Apple’s App Store last year. Like Google’s section, Apple’s labels are designed to provide greater transparency about user data collection, including whether it is used to track users or is personally identifiable.
The initiatives from Apple and Google have come as their respective app stores face intense antitrust scrutiny over concerns they give the two companies too much control over their respective mobile ecosystems. A core part of Apple and Google’s arguments is that their stores protect mobile users. New initiatives such as privacy labels and security sections appear to be an attempt to reinforce these arguments.