This is a new requirement and feature of the Google Play App store. They believe it is important to notify your App users of how your App may access private information, such as their contacts, and convey confidence on how you keep this information secure. It is also an additional protection for the store from action for your customers.
People are becoming more and more concerned about the access to, and breach of, their private information on the Internet, via Apps and related devices. Many Apps access far more information than they require to run the actual App. This is often because the developers do not bother limiting what the App accesses and not necessarily because they are trying to gain access to your personal information.
However, there are Apps that do access a customer’s personal information and do not necessarily require it to run the App. Instead they use it for their own means, for example, advertising, marketing, selling your contacts or some other means of financial gain. App developers will eventually have to answer to this and may end up in expensive litigation as a result, if they cannot show that:
- The App requires access to their personal information in order to function, and
- The customer agreed to give this access to their personal information.
Let your App customers know which permissions are accessed …
So if you are an App developer, you need to be aware of the permissions that your App requires to run and to limit permissions accessed accordingly. Some developers are lazy and do not limit these permissions in their App and others are unnecessarily accessing personal information for their own gain. In both cases, the legislators are looking at this and will eventually require strict provisions to disable this practice, which may be costly to the developer in the end.
It will not be long until Australian data privacy laws catch up with the Internet and require all Apps to be clear on their permissions, show what is required to run their App and notify users of the personal information accessed. It will also require users of the App to agree to any access to their personal information. As privacy regulations are currently and constantly being reviewed, the requirements for App developers are becoming more and more stringent. The onus will be on the App developer to show that their customers have agreed to permit any access to the permissions required to run the App they have downloaded.
Protect yourself: As an App developer you need to have a good, short Disclaimer that your App users agree to when downloading your App. This is important to both protecting yourself and your business from customers complaining that you accessed personal information and breached their privacy. It’s also important to have their confirmation to permissions, applications and programs that your App needs to access in order to function. Plus it shows you care about your customers’ privacy.