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Additional protections by Safe Browsing for Android users

By Paul Stanton, Google Safe Browsing Team

December 5, 2017

In our efforts to protect users and serve developers, the Google Safe Browsing team has expanded enforcement of Google's Unwanted Software Policy to further tamp down on unwanted and harmful mobile behaviors on Android. As part of this expanded enforcement, Google Safe Browsing will show warnings on apps and on websites leading to apps that collect a user’s personal data without their consent.

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. 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.

These data collection requirements apply to all functions of the app. For example, during analytics and crash reportings, the list of installed packages unrelated to the app may not be transmitted from the device without prominent disclosure and affirmative consent.

These requirements apply to apps in Google Play and non-Play app markets. The Google Play team has also published guidelines for how Play apps should handle user data and provide disclosure.

Starting in 60 days, this expanded enforcement of Google’s
Unwanted Software Policy may result in warnings shown on user devices via Google Play Protect or on webpages that lead to these apps. Webmasters whose sites show warnings due to distribution of these apps should refer to the Search Console for guidance on remediation and resolution of the warnings. Developers whose apps show warnings should refer to guidance in the Unwanted Software Help Center. Developers can also request an app review using this article on App verification and appeals, which contains guidance applicable to apps in both Google Play and non-Play app stores. Apps published in Google Play have specific criteria to meet Google Play’s enforcement of the Unwanted Software policy; these criteria are outlined in the Play August 2017 announcement.

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