Google’s Area 120 launches Checks, an AI-powered privacy compliance solution for mobile apps – TechCrunch


A Google team is today launching a new product for mobile app developers called Vouchers that leverages AI technology to identify potential privacy and compliance issues within apps, in a changing regulatory and political landscape. rapid evolution. The freemium solution will be offered to Android and iOS app developers of all sizes, who will be able to have their apps scanned and then receive a report with actionable insights on how to fix any issues found.

Checks was co-founded by Fergus Hurley (GM) and Nia Castelly (Legal Lead), who developed the project over the past two years as part of Google’s internal incubator, Area 120. The Checks team had previously created tools like Android Vitals to address technical challenges for developers, and came up with the idea of ​​using AI to now also address privacy compliance challenges.

Today’s app developers need to keep up to date with a number of new regulations and policies, from European GDPR requirements to new rules being implemented by the app stores themselves. Meanwhile, consumers have become more aware of the trade-offs involved in using freeware – they now often want to know how well an app respects their privacy, how their data is accessed, stored or shared, and more. . And even if a developer’s app meets all the rules, an SDK the developer uses may not (or the SDK’s data sharing behavior may change over time), presenting another compliance challenge. .

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Picture credits: google

With Checks, the idea is to make compliance easier than it is today. To use Checks, developers subject their app to a privacy compliance scan, which involves both automated review and, on some service tiers, human review as well.

To get started, Android app developers can sign in using their Google account and then provide their Google Play app ID. They will then answer a few questions and verify their access. The checks analyze multiple sources of information, including the app’s privacy policy, SDK information, and network traffic, to generate its report. The solution also takes advantage of advancements the team has made in using natural language processing to analyze an app’s privacy information. Once the scan is complete, developers receive a report that provides clear, actionable information about the issues found and lists of resources.

The free tier can be used to complement Google Play’s new data security section, while the paid tiers – Core, Premium and Enterprise – are designed to meet the needs of professional developers and large enterprises, including those developing on iOS.

There are no technical requirements or prerequisites for using Checks, which runs its scan on physical and virtual devices.

The $249/month Core plan adds compliance monitoring for regulations like GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), as well as proactive notifications about upcoming compliance requirements. Premium users ($499/month) can automate monitoring of their app’s data sharing practices and gain an understanding of SDKs, permissions, and where app data sharing takes place, among other things. Enterprise users (5+ apps and custom pricing) get more frequent, advanced, and in-depth privacy checks, which include access to a compliance verification team, as well as analytics and testing streams personalized, and more.

Checks says the data and reports it generates are not shared with the Google Play team.

The team collected feedback from hundreds of app developers to create Checks, then worked with 40 early adopters to test the product before launch. Testers included Headspace, Sesame Workshop, StoryToys, Carb Manager, Homer, and Lose It, among others.

Now Checks is opening up to a wider audience – interested developers can fill out the online form to register their interest on the Checks site.

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