In what is seen as a move by Google to adopt some of the strict policies followed by Apple, the company has announced that free access to user data on its platforms given to mobile apps will be no longer permitted, reports Economic Times.

Observers say this would come as a rude shock to many companies especially in India which were highly dependent on such data to fashion their own business strategies and to target their marketing communications based on user behaviour. Some sectors like financial services and ecommerce will be immediately affected.

At the heart of the matter is the way developers create apps and seek Google’s approval to place them in the Play Store. Google has been quite liberal with such approvals and customers had a massive choice of apps to select from and download and use. But while installing these apps, they seek certain permissions from the users, which majority of customers would give, to access their text messages and so on. In its latest blog post Google has stated that from now on, only those Android applications that users select as their ‘default apps’ for making calls or texting will be able to request access to such data.

Though Google has mentioned that exceptions may be made, experts feel the real effect of this bold step by Google will be put to test only when the tech giant is able to seamlessly implement it at the device levels. At some level, Google is possibly keeping the customer interest on top since, as mentioned, most customers would not even know the implications of these permissions that the apps seek and get from them. There may be efforts at keeping the users informed of what kind of permissions are being sought, so that they can make an educated choice.

In the ultimate analysis, the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data sharing scam is having a snowballing effect where every company that directly or through third parties capture huge amount of personal data of their customers have begun to own the responsibility for the privacy of that information and they can no longer distance themselves from what’s happening. There is also the possibility that the strict GDPR laws brought into force in Europe has set all of them thinking and there is no guarantee that other countries may not follow through with similar laws.

In the Indian context, there is already a lot of churning happening with the country’s Supreme Court delivering a series of judgements that have overturned centuries of beliefs and customs and some of the judges have openly said the country has to become modern and change its thinking. Individual privacy is already a burning topic in debates and online data protection laws could make things tough for those who collect them for a stated purpose but end up sharing it for profit or allow it to be exploited commercially.

Akhil was raised by movies, television, and the internet. A never-ending source of absolutely useless information. He would tell you more, but he was distracted by something shiny

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