What Your Android Phone’s New “Data Safety” Labels Mean


Can you ask an app to delete all the data it has on you?

It used to be that figuring out the exact answer required a decent amount of research, but Google is trying to make the things app makers do with our data a little easier to find.

The company says the Android apps you can download in the Google Play Store have started disclosing how they deal with our data from the kinds they collect to how it’s used, to the reasons it could be shared with third parties. And among other things, these new “data safety” sections require developers to tell people thinking about downloading their app if they can request that their data be deleted.

Thankfully, these kinds of data usage disclosures have become more common over the last few years. Google first announced its plans to push for greater data transparency inside the Play Store in May 2021, well after similar privacy-focused “nutrition labels” started making their way into Apple’s App Store. But even though Big Tech has made progress in unpacking the ways our apps try to understand us, privacy researchers aren’t convinced they’ve done enough so far.

“I have been advocating for privacy labels for 20 years,” said Lorrie Cranor, director of the CyLab Security & Privacy Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. “And I had hoped that we could do better.”

It’ll probably be a few weeks before most people start seeing these data safety labels, and longer still before they become impossible to miss. In the meantime, though, here’s what you should know about Google’s Android app data safety disclosures.

Here’s a quick (and non-exhaustive) breakdown of what developers are required to disclose by July 20:

Whether the apps collect any data.

The types of data collected — think your name, email address, location and more — along with the reason they’re needed.

Whether any of that data is shared with third parties.

Whether any of the data that leaves your phone is encrypted in transit.

Whether you can ask for your data to be deleted.

Whether you can opt-out of data collection entirely.

App makers can also tell users whether their software has been independently validated for security or if it complies with Google’s more stringent design policies for families and children, but unlike everything listed above, these are purely optional.



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