After inviting users to accept its new data sharing policy with Facebook, many people turned their back on the popular messaging platform and looked for alternatives. As a result, Signal made it to the top charts on the Play Store, promising to respect its users' privacy. Even though WhatsApp tried to reassure the crowds claiming chats and calls would remain encrypted, it's decided to give more time to people before forcing them to accept its new terms.
Facebook has a long history of privacy lapses, including some more serious ones, and the mere fact that it owns some of the most widely used social media apps already concerns privacy-conscious users. While WhatsApp was still able to keep a fair distance from Facebook’s unreliable privacy practices, that fringe benefit is soon going away, as the messaging app has decided to enforce new usage terms that give its parent company more control over your WhatsApp data.
It finally seems like people are becoming more aware about the importance of privacy online. Google has been working to improve its public image when it comes to user data privacy recently, including setting new privacy standards for Chrome extensions last year. Now the company is announcing an update to its developer policy that limits what developers of extensions can do with user data, as well as provides increased transparency regarding data-use practices.
Facebook announced yesterday that it's going to be making policy changes for users around the world based on the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Although GDPR doesn't take effect until May 25, Facebook says it's rolling out the changes in Europe this week, with other regions following later.
Security is a big deal these days. Google understands this, which is why its Safe Browsing team is implementing even more mandates for applications. Apps that handle user or device data will soon have to provide their own privacy policies. If this requirement isn't met, warnings may be shown on users' devices.
One of the changes to the Play Store announced at Google I/O as "coming soon" was the ability for app developers to publish links to their privacy policies, thus making their intentions more transparent right out of the gate. By using Android apps, we allow a lot of personal information to travel through the tubes, and it's in everyone's best interests to disclose just what exactly happens to it in an open way.
Here's the relevant bit from the Google I/O session I was talking about earlier: