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Google plots Play Store privacy purge

Google’s warning developers that their apps could receive limited visibility, or be removed from the Play Store entirely, if they fail to provide a valid privacy policy.

According to security company Sophos, developers have been receiving emails warning them that their apps need to comply by March 15 this year, or will face administrative consequences, which would be pretty disastrous for any affected apps.

The issue is a simple one to rectify, however, as all developers need to do is suitably inform users of what personal data is being collected and how that is used. As part of that requirement, making that information easy to find is also a part of the deal, which means providing links to these privacy policies within the app and on the Play Store listing. All transmitted data must also be sent encrypted over a secure (HTTPS) connection.

With more than 2.5 million apps available to download, and a relatively short timeframe to comply with the User Data Privacy Policy, the end result could be the removal of an awful lot of apps from the Store, at least temporarily.

While it’s potentially irksome for developers, it’s a requirement that they’ve not been complying with, rather than a new burden – and given how much data can be collected by apps, one that’s owed to users too.

Of course, the alternative to complying with the policy before mid-March is removing all the aspects of your app that collect personal data. In that instance, the privacy policy requirement won’t be enforced.

Related: Google Play has hundreds of apps that contain malware

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