Unpacking Privacy Labels: A Measurement and Developer Perspective on Google's Data Safety Section


Google has mandated developers to use Data Safety Sections (DSS) to increase transparency in data collection and sharing practices. In this paper, we present a comprehensive analysis of Google’s Data Safety Section (DSS) using both quantitative and qualitative methods. We conduct the first large-scale measurement study of DSS using apps from Android Play store (n=1.1M). We find that there are internal inconsistencies within the reported practices. We also find trends of both over and under-reporting practices in the DSSs. Finally, we conduct a longitudinal study of DSS to explore how the reported practices evolve over time, and find that the developers are still adjusting their practices. To contextualize these findings, we conduct a developer study, uncovering the process that app developers undergo when working with DSS. We highlight the challenges faced and strategies employed by developers for DSS submission, and the factors contributing to changes in the DSS. Our research contributes valuable insights into the complexities of implementing and maintaining privacy labels, underlining the need for better resources, tools, and guidelines to aid developers. This understanding is crucial as the accuracy and reliability of privacy labels directly impact their effectiveness.

Proceedings of the 33rd USENIX Security Symposium