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Google under fire for app store privacy policy

Google under fire for app store privacy policy

The company shares the names, email addresses and certain billing details of buyers with app developers

Once again, Google Inc.’s privacy practices are attracting scrutiny following revelations that the search engine is sharing users’ personal information with app developers.

Dan Nolan, an Australian app developer, revealed in a blog post this week that Google sends him the name, email address and certain billing details of everyone who buys his app from the company’s online store.

This information-sharing practice is consistent with Google’s privacy policy for its app store and its Google Wallet payment service. Google said in a statement to Thomson Reuters that it “shares the information needed to process transactions,” but critics say that the company should publicize the policy instead of putting it in the fine print.

“The way the system is designed, [the information] is not what a user would expect to hand over,” Nolan told Thomson Reuters, who notes that on Apple Inc.’s app store, Apple simply passes money on to the developer without sharing specific personal details.

Consumer privacy is a perennial concern in the fast-evolving world of apps. Last month, a group of tech companies including Apple, Microsoft and Facebook joined the ACT 4 Apps initiative, which aims to educate app developers about privacy best practices and help them design privacy-enhancing tools.

For more InsideCounsel coverage of privacy issues, see:

Obama signs executive order on cybersecurity

Judge Oks Facebook’s revised privacy settlement

More than half of in-house counsel say data security is their top legal concern

Litigation: Practical and legal considerations for online privacy policies

Regulatory: In-house counsel must become actively involved in privacy matters

Alanna Byrne

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