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Google to Flag Apps That Snoop Without Permission

Starting at the end of January, Google will warn you about Android apps that collect personal data without users' consent. The alerts will pop up on app store and webpages that lead to the offending apps.

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Google's Safe Browsing team is tamping down on "unwanted and harmful" mobile activity on Android, Google said on Friday. That'll involve more strictly enforcing the company's unwanted software policy, which already demands that app developers be transparent with users when collecting their personal information.

Google will now require apps to show a privacy policy on the device when the software is handling personal data such as phone number or email address. Developers must also be transparent when collecting personal data unrelated to the functionality in the apps they're offering (a weather or battery-saving app that needs access to your phone contacts, for instance).

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"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," Google said.

Those who don't adhere to these policies will have to deal with Google warnings that pop up when users go to download their apps, as part of Google Play Protect.

This new policy applies to any data gathering, including when an app is compiling analytics or a crash report to improve the software's performance. It also applies to apps on Google Play and other third-party stores.

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