Mozilla has a privacy-related warning for all Android users – Times of India

Google announced last year that it is making it mandatory for all developers to include data safety labels on their apps. The company said the change is part of its efforts to honour user privacy. These labels will make Android users aware of what private data is accessed by the app and what is shared by third parties. However, a new report has found that “most apps” in the Play Store displayed “false or misleading” labels.
Mozilla says that it undertook a study and as per the results, nearly 80% of the apps the software developer reviewed on Google Play Store displayed false or misleading data privacy labels. The company found discrepancies between the apps’ privacy policies and the information apps self-reported on Google’s Data Safety Form.

Google’s label system ‘failed’
The researchers concluded that the system failed to help consumers make more informed choices about their privacy before purchasing or downloading one of the store’s 2.7 million apps.
As per the study titled, “See No Evil: How Loopholes in the Google Play Store’s Data Safety Labels Leave Companies in the Clear and Consumers in the Dark,” the loopholes in Google’s Data Safety Form make it easy for apps to provide false or misleading information.
“Google Play Store’s misleading Data Safety labels give users a false sense of security. Honest nutrition labels help us eat better. It’s time we have honest data safety labels to help us better protect our privacy,” said Jen Caltrider, project lead at Mozilla.
Mozilla points out that Google exempts apps sharing data with “service providers” from its disclosure requirements, which is problematic. The study said that Google absolves itself of the responsibility to verify whether the information is true stating that apps “are responsible for making complete and accurate declarations” in their Data Safety labels.

How Mozilla rated popular apps
Mozilla says that 16 out of 40 apps, or 40%, received a “Poor” grade, including Minecraft, Twitter, and Facebook.
It added that 15 apps, or 37.5%, received a middle grade, “Needs Improvement.” These apps included YouTube, Google Maps, Gmail, WhatsApp Messenger and Instagram.
Only Just 6 of the 40 apps, or 15%, received an “OK” grade. These apps were: Candy Crush Saga, Google Play Games, Subway Surfers, Stickman Legends Offline Games, Power Amp Full Version Unlocker, and League of Stickman: 2020 Ninja.
Three apps – UC Browser – Safe, Fast, Private; League of Stickman Acti; and Terraria – did not fill out the form at all
“Consumers care about privacy and want to make smart decisions when they download apps. Google’s Data Safety labels are supposed to help them do that. Unfortunately, they don’t. Instead, I’m worried they do more harm than good,” Caltrider added.
“When I see Data Safety labels stating that apps like Twitter or TikTok don’t share data with third parties it makes me angry because it is completely untrue. Of course, Twitter and TikTok share data with third parties. Consumers deserve better. Google must do better,” Caltrider noted.
It is to be noted that Apple also mandates developers to include Privacy Nutrition Labels that aim at helping users understand how apps handle their data. Apple also has a page that brings apps for iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS together in one place.

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