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Google Play Store Reinstates Permissions Because Data Safety Isn't Enough

Google Play Store Icon Logo AH 2020
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Google is bringing back the “Permissions” list on the Play Store just days after removing it. The company had rolled out the new Data Safety section as a replacement of sorts, but Android users didn’t like the change. The Android maker is now listening to its users and reinstating Permissions on the Play Store. It will co-exist with Data Safety, which serves a little different purpose.

For the uninitiated, Data Safety is a new section in Play Store app listings. It is a developer-supplied summary of how an app collects and uses your data. You’ll find information on the type of data collected, its purpose, security measures put in place by the app’s developers, and more. This section also tells you whether your data is shared with third parties.

Google is making Data Safety mandatory for all Play Store apps next month. With pretty much all big apps now providing this information, the company decided to remove the Permissions list. The former does give you an idea of what permissions an app will require to work. Perhaps it does a better job in this regard. You can see whether certain permission, say location access, is mandatory for the app’s functioning or if it’s optional.

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However, Data Safety is not a like-for-like replacement for Permissions. For one, the information here is provided by the developers and may not always tell the full story. Moreover, this section also doesn’t list every permission an app may ask for after you install it. With the Permissions list gone, you could no longer check those without installing the app.

Google brings back Permissions to the Play Store after user “feedback”

Of course, Android users wouldn’t feel removing the Permissions list is a development in the right direction. Google is essentially depriving users of some essential information. The company understandably faced backlash for the decision. Thankfully, it has quickly reverted it and is bringing Permissions back, though it hasn’t specified a date.

“Privacy and transparency are core values in the Android community. We heard your feedback that you find the app permissions section in Google Play useful, and we’ve decided to reinstate it. The app permissions section will be back shortly,” The official Android Developers Twitter handle tweeted earlier today (via). It’s unclear whether a server-side update would be enough for it or if Google will push a new version of the Play Store app. We will likely find out soon.

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