Google warns location-sharing apps

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You can use location data in many ways. For example, you could assess footfall at a particular time on a high street.

Google advised app developers to communicate clearly with their users regarding the data they shared with Huq. Huq is a British location-data company.

Google announced that apps who do not comply with its data policies will be removed from the Play Store.

This comes just after Huq, a BBC journalist, admitted that at most two of his app partners hadn’t sought permissions for the right user.

Huq claimed that data protection was taken “very seriously” by the firm and all of its partners believe they are in compliance.

Regulators and policy-makers are increasingly scrutinizing app partnerships and data sharing with third parties.

Huq has partnered with many apps to offer a variety of services, such as a prayer app for Muslims and a flight tracking app.

Developers embed lines of Huq code that feed location data to Huq, which Huq then compiles. The information can then be sold to clients including various UK councils.

Vice’s October article raised concerns about the awareness of users that this information could be shared with them through their apps.

Huq admitted that two apps had shared data with the BBC, and that he did not seek permission from the users.

Google announced a new policy for user data in October. It requires that apps are clear on how data is being used.

Google responded: “As part a our investigation we have sent an email to all developers of apps that we discovered were violating Google Play policies.”

It declined to reveal how many app developers were notified.

Conrad Poulson, chief executive of Huq, stated that the company continues to be concerned about data privacy and consent and supports any efforts to improve it.

“It’s extremely important that we continue working alongside our partners to ensure privacy best practice are implemented and maintained.”

Apple has been also contacted by the BBC.


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