Google Play Is Forcing Developers To Let Users Delete Their Account Data

Google has announced sweeping changes to its Google Play developer policy that will enforce new restrictions for apps that require users to create an account. The new rules stipulate that developers must provide a way for users to request full account deletion. These methods must be readily available both within the app and via an external portal, such as the app's website. Google says the website requirement is key to ensure users have a route to account deletion without reinstalling the app.

The move follows one Apple announced in January 2022 and began enforcing at that year's midway point. Social media apps like Instagram and Twitter have long implemented such measures, and those changes were preemptively mirrored on the apps' Android counterparts. According to Google, developers have already had the option to highlight any account deletion options they offer, but this move will make it a hard requirement for all apps to implement.

How and when Android apps will be impacted

The new guidelines state that developers must offer an option to delete all data associated with the account whenever a request to delete an account is fulfilled. Developers can still offer data deletion a la carte, such as if a user only wants to delete their activity history but retain any multimedia they've uploaded.

There is a loophole that allows developers to keep specific data that may help in cases such as law enforcement investigations or meeting regulatory compliance requirements, but it requires developers to disclose details of those data retention needs.

It'll take a while for all of this to go into full effect. Considering the hefty workloads needed to implement these changes, Google is giving developers a December 7 deadline, whereupon they must submit answers to questions regarding their apps' data deletion methods. These responses will likely be used to populate the Google Play listing's Data Safety section with the new information (where users will also find an area dedicated to data deletion containing information on how to submit deletion requests). Developers can file for an extension that will give them until May 31, 2024, to meet full compliance. Users will begin to see these changes reflected in apps and their associated Google Play listings "early next year," according to the notice.