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Google Play Store apps are lying about your data privacy

Some of the top Google Play apps aren’t being completely honest about data collection.

Google play store logo with blurred background on android
Image: KnowTechie

A recent study from Mozilla claims that many Google Play Store apps lie or mislead users about how much data they’re gathering on Data Safety labels.

The study by Mozilla looked at a handful of the most popular apps on the Google Play Store. Mozilla picked the top 20 paid and the top 20 free apps as part of the study.

After looking into all 40 of these apps, Mozilla found that nearly 80 percent of them had Data Safety labels that were false or misleading.

The study separated each app into one of three categories. “Poor” rated apps feature major differences in Data Safety practices and what their labels say. Apps tagged as “needs improvement” weren’t as bad, but still a bit deceptive.

Play store data labels study results
Image: Mozilla

And apps labeled “OK” had matching Data Safety labels and practices. Of the 40 apps tested, 16 were labeled “Poor,” and another 15 earned a “Needs improvement” score.

Only six of the top 20 free and paid Google Play Store apps received an “OK” rating in the study. The remaining apps received no score at all after not filling out a data safety score.

Google added the Data Safety labels to Play Store apps in April 2022. The feature was an effort to become more transparent with how apps manage user data.

But these findings are disappointing. The Data Safety labels were a nice addition, but they lose much of their value if they can’t be trusted. It’s up to Google to get better at policing the Data Safety labels on Play Store apps.

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Staff writer at KnowTechie. Alex has two years of experience covering all things technology, from video games to electric cars. He's a gamer at heart, with a passion for first-person shooters and expansive RPGs. Shoot him an email at alex@knowtechie.com

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