By Prarthana Mitra
Taking a leaf out of Apple’s developer policy manual, Google shocked e-commerce companies, technology firms, and startups this week, by tightening their user consent policies and third-party app rules.
What does the new policy entail?
In a blog post on October 8, Google said only Android applications that users select as their ‘default apps’ for making calls or texting will be able to request access to such data. Limited exceptions may be made if an app provides a highly compelling or critical feature transparently, without an alternative method to provide the feature.
In the same blog post, Google announced it will shut down Google+ entirely, but more on that later.
Besides limiting an app’s access to call logs and text messages, Google will now enlighten the user in detail about the permissions a user is required to give to use any app. Instead of a single screen notice, apps that allow users to log in via Google’s sign-on feature will have to display each permission request lucidly in separate dialog boxes.
Whom does this affect?
The global search engine delivered a potentially huge blow to corporations that have banked on the data collected from users’ call logs and texts, to ascertain consumer patterns and optimise ads for the user.
It will also disrupt lending and financial services companies that use such data to determine customer credit scores. “Google’s decision to prohibit apps from accessing SMS logs and call data records of its users will have a huge significant effect on fintech firms in India, something none of them were prepared for,” said Kunal Shah, founder of payments startup Freecharge.
This ends an era of what activists have often called an indiscriminate violation of privacy with dangerous implications like data mining, harvesting and surveillance.