Deleting your account and scrubbing your personal data from a mobile app is often frustrating at best and impossible at worst. Google wants to improve that. Bethel Otuteye, senior director of Android App Safety, explained in a blog post Wednesday that the Google Play store’s new data deletion policy will give users more control over their in-app data.
Developers of Android apps that enable account creation will soon have to provide an option to initiate account and data deletion from within the app and online as well. Otuteye says that the online option is especially important so that users can request to have their accounts and data deleted without having to redownload the app.
“As the new policy states, when you fulfill a request to delete an account, you must also delete the data associated with that account,” says Otuteye.
The new data deletion policy also gives users more choice. For example, a user may want to delete the data associated with their account (images, videos, documents, etc.) while keeping the account active. If developers need to retain any of the data for security, fraud prevention, or regulatory compliance purposes, they have to clearly disclose those practices.
Google says that developers have until December 7, 2023, to answer a series of data deletion questions concerning their apps in the data safety form. Any developers that need additional time can request an extension to May 31, 2024.
Early next year, users will see the new data deletion badge on the store listings of compliant apps on Google Play. After May 31, 2024, Google will take action against non-compliant apps, which might include removing them from the store altogether.
It’s worth noting that Apple implemented a similar policy on the App Store last June. According to Apple, the process for deleting an account from an iOS app “should be straightforward and transparent.” It’s good to see Google following Apple’s example here.