Google Will Require Android Developers to Make It Easier to Delete Your Account Data

Google Will Require Android Developers to Make It Easier to Delete Your Account Data

Google’s newest developer policy aims to give Android users more control by allowing them to delete their account data on apps that require account creation, even if they don’t currently have the app installed.

Right now, developers simply need to declare to Google that account deletion is somehow possible, but beginning next year, developers will have to make it easier to delete data through both their app and an online portal. Google specifies:

For apps that enable app account creation, developers will soon need to provide an option to initiate account and data deletion from within the app and online.

This means any app that lets you create an account to use it is required to allow you to delete that information when you’re done with it (or rather, request the developer delete the data from their servers). Although you can request that your data be deleted now, it usually requires manually contacting the developer to remove it. This new policy would mean developers have to offer a kill switch from the get-go rather than having Android users do the leg work.

The web deletion requirement is particularly new and must be “readily discoverable.” Developers must provide a link to a web form from the app’s Play Store landing page, with the idea being to let users delete account data even if they no longer have the app installed. Per the existing Android developer policy, all apps must declare how they collect and handle user data — Google introduced the policy in 2021 and made it mandatory last year. When you go into the Play Store and expand the “Data Safety” section under each app listing, developers list out data collection by criteria.

Simply removing an app from your Android device doesn’t completely scrub your data. Like software on a desktop operating system, files and folders are sometimes left behind from when the app was operating. This new policy will hopefully help you keep your data secure by wiping any unnecessary account info from the app developer’s servers, but also hopes to cut down on straggling data on your device. Conversely, you don’t have to delete your data if you think you’ll come to the app later. When it says you have a “choice,” Google wants to ensure it can point to something obvious.

It’s unclear how Google will determine if a developer follows the rules. It is up to the app developer to disclose whether user-specific app data is actually deleted. Earlier this year, Mozilla called out Google after discovering significant discrepancies between the top 20 most popular free apps’ internal privacy policies and those they listed in the Play Store.

This new app policy doesn’t go into effect until at least next year. Developers have until December 7 to answer Google’s Data safety survey, where they disclose the kind of data they’re collecting and whether it can be deleted. Android users should start seeing the changes reflected at the beginning of next year. But developers can request an extension until May 31, 2024 to comply with the policy.