Daily Management Review

Google’s Long Privacy Battle With Apple Strains Its Own Apps


Google’s Long Privacy Battle With Apple Strains Its Own Apps
The own apps of Google are now complaining of the long time that the search engine’s privacy battle with Apple Inc. is going on .  
Apple has made it mandatory for any iOS app to include a privacy “nutrition label” since early December last year which requires all apps to list the manner in which they use personal data of users.
The labels are to be written by the app developers themselves and range from being short and sweet. For example, the podcast app Overcast has listed six uses of personal data which range from using personal user information for analytics to utilizing user IDs for the sign-in functionality of the app to those that are somewhat longer. On the other hand, 80 different data categories that personal data is used by it was listed by the social media platform Facebook and range from using them for tracking users around the web to personalising the app.
However its own labels have not yet been provided by Google. But the company is required to do so only when it updates its app – which it had stopped doing since late last year. for example, there was an update roughly every two weeks throughout 2020 for the iOS version of Google Chrome which has been stopped by Google until about two months ago when the last update was provided to Chrome.  And until about two months ago, Google Photos was updated almost every week. Similar is the case with YouTube, Google Maps and Gmail.
Google has updated only three of the total of the about 86 of its apps that it publishes through the iOS App Store - Google Slides, Google Play Music and TV, and Google Translate, in 2021. And a privacy label is provided by only one of those three apps from Google - Google Translate – in which the company has listed 25 ways that the app uses the personal data of users.
The most recent updates for almost all of the remaining 83 apps published by Google on the iOS App Store was about two months ago – a time when the new requirements for privacy labelling from Apple were actually implemented
In recent days however there were complaints from Google’s apps about the lack of updates.  Notices that warned users that the apps was “out of date” were issued by Google for a number of apps including Gmail, Google Maps and Google Photos, despite the fact that the users were already using the latest updated versions of the app, according to user reports posted on social media.
“You should update this app,” the warning read. “The version you’re using doesn’t include the latest security features to keep you protected. Only continue if you understand the risks.”
No comment on the issue was available from Google except for a spokesperson of the company informing the tech site The Verge that the error message was a “bug”.
The “bug” was in fact “an automatic check of how long it has been since the app was last updated”, which should not be expected to be triggered because a two month-old version of the app would definitely not be out of date under normal times, said the TechMeme editor, Spencer Dailey.