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Big technology companies have started making changes to the safety rules on their platforms, as governments prepare regulations to rein in such firms.

Google on Thursday announced a new safety section for Play Store, meant to provide more transparency to users about what data apps access. It is similar to the privacy labels Apple started applying to apps on the App Store earlier this year.

Google said developers will be able to submit information to the company for review from October and the section should be live by the first quarter of 2022.

“We know that some developers will need more time to assess their apps and coordinate with multiple teams. So, you’ll have until April 2022 before your apps must have this section approved. Without an approved section, your new app submission or app update may be rejected," said Suzanne Frey, vice-president, product, Android security and privacy, at Google.

“A lot of these firms view data as line items on their balance sheet," said Akash Karmakar, a partner at the Law Offices of Panag & Babu. “Therefore, how they deal with this data and the impact on their bottomlines are things they are trying to assess now by starting a soft compliance programme."

Tech firms won’t make “drastic" changes in anticipation of laws, but will look towards companies such as Apple, Google and Facebook to take the lead, according to a lawyer who represents a big tech firm. For big tech firms, it is a matter of complying where they can and pushing back against the ones they have trouble accepting. “There is a fair amount of pushback in India, too, but they also know that the government’s stance is fairly strong on these subjects," the lawyer said.

The European General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) is the north star for companies right now and expectations are that India’s Personal Data Protection (PDP) bill won’t differ too much from it, Karmakar said.

Companies working on pre-emptive compliance may be in trouble if the PDP bill is more stringent than the GDPR, he noted.

Google and Apple are not the only firms that have made such changes to their platforms. Social media giants Facebook, too, announced a change to its advertising algorithms this week.

The company said it would no longer allow advertisers to target users aged under 18 with anything other than their age, gender and location.

The company also added measures to track “potentially suspicious users".

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