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Google just reversed this major Play Store change after backlash

Google Play store on an Android device
(Image credit: Rafapress/Shutterstock)

Google will reinstate app permissions on the Play Store after the company had replaced them for a Data Safety section that gives users an idea of what data apps are collecting and how it is used. 

App permissions on Play Store listed the permissions that an app used. These permissions were listed by Google in contrast to Data Safety labels, which were listed by individual app makers. They simply detailed how apps could potentially gather your personal information. 

The removal of app permissions from Play Store listings meant users weren't getting a complete picture of apps and what they could access. There wasn't any way to compare the information coming from Google with that supplied by the app developers.

Google introduced Data Safety labels last year but the feature was rolled out on Android phones only in April 2022. Since then, users noticed it replaced some key information on app pages and removed app permissions from Play Store completely. You could still go to the apps menu on your phone and check out permissions for the individual app.

This resulted in an online backlash, and Google has now finally rolled back on its decision to remove app permissions. The software giant said in Twitter thread (opens in new tab) that the feature will be reinstated. 

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In that tweet, Google mentions that the app permissions list and the Data Safety section will coexist, so it should be readily transparent to look what data an app is really using. That said, I couldn't spot the change on my Android phone at the time of writing this; Google says app permissions should “be back shortly”.

Google’s Data Safety section is similar to Apple’s app privacy labels that launched in 2020 to show users what data apps collect across three categories: data used to track you, data linked to you and data that is not linked to you. 

Google labels, on the other hand, show the data an app developer is collecting, their security practices and if they share that information. Google also recently ran into a problem with their labels as individual app developers didn’t update their own permissions. So companies like Facebook and Amazon did not have any permissions up on the Play Store. 

Google makes it mandatory for developers to declare the Data Safety section for their apps, with the rule going into effect earlier this week. The tech giant also mentions it will take action against an app if it finds inaccuracies in the Data Safety section. 

With Google now reinstating app permissions on the Play Store, it’s a win-win situation for Google and us and hopefully, we will not be left in the dark about what apps are doing with our data. 

Sanjana loves all things tech. From the latest phones, to quirky gadgets and the best deals, she's in sync with it all. Based in Atlanta, she is the news editor at Tom's Guide. Previously, she produced India's top technology show for NDTV and has been a tech news reporter on TV. Outside work, you can find her on a tennis court or sipping her favorite latte in instagrammable coffee shops in the city. Her work has appeared on NDTV Gadgets 360 and CNBC.