Google says it’s rolling back its decision to remove a section from the Play Store that listed which permissions an app uses. The company had more or less replaced that info with its Data Safety section, which is supposed to give you an idea of what data apps are collecting and how that data is used.
The problem, as several commentators pointed out, is that the information in the Data Safety section came from developers, whereas the app permissions section was generated by Google. By removing it, Google made it impossible for users to do a quick fact-check by comparing the two sections or to use the info from both to get a more complete picture of what an app is up to and what it has access to.
In a Twitter thread on Thursday spotted by Android Police, Google says the app permissions section will return soon and that it made the decision to bring it back because of user feedback. At time of writing, I wasn’t able to see it on my device, but when the section returns, it should be available along with the Data Safety section.
The Data safety section provides users with a simplified view of how an app collects, shares, & secures user data, but we also want to make app permissions information easily viewable for users to understand an app’s ability to access specific restricted data & actions too.
— Android Developers (@AndroidDev) July 21, 2022
Google’s Data Safety section, which it announced in May 2021 and started rolling out in April this year, is similar to Apple’s privacy labels. Developers have to tell Google what they do with users’ data (such as whether it’s shared with third parties and what kind of data the app collects) and provide other info, like whether users can ask that their data be deleted and if the data is encrypted. While Google says that only developers know those details, it does say that it will take action against an app if it finds inaccuracies in the Data Safety info.