You Can’t Trust App Developers’ Privacy Claims on Google Play
IT'S BASICALLY IMPOSSIBLE to keep track of what all your mobile apps are doing and what data they share with whom and when. So over the past couple of years, Apple and Google have both added mechanisms to their app stores meant to act as a sort of privacy nutrition label, giving users some insight into how apps behave and what information they may share. These transparency tools, though, are populated with self-reported information from app developers themselves. And a new study focused on the Data Safety information in Google Play indicates that the details developers are providing are often inaccurate.
“When you land on Twitter’s app page or TikTok’s app page and click on Data Safety, the first thing you see is these companies declaring that they don’t share data with third parties. That’s ridiculous—you immediately know something is off,” says Jen Caltrider, Mozilla’s project lead. “As a privacy researcher, I could tell this information was not going to help people make informed decisions. What’s more, a regular person reading it would most certainly walk away with a false sense of security.”