Google Checks automates GDPR compliance for mobile app developers

The Google logo on a smartphone display
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Google announced it will be rolling out a new platform called Checks to make it easier for mobile app developers to ensure their product is compliant with current privacy regulations.

Checks will use artificial intelligence (AI) to scan codebases and provide automated privacy insights and recommendations where it spots areas that potentially fall foul of privacy regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The platform will also allow developers to analyse their code against regulations in the United States and Brazil, and against the Google Play Store Developer Policies.

Google said developers have contacted them saying they struggle to keep track of the ever-changing regulatory landscape and deal with the growing complexities it presents.

Checks is aimed at developer teams of all sizes and is a product of Google’s in-house incubator programme, Area 120, which sees employees come together to work on entrepreneurial projects.

Mockup of the Checks platform UI

(Image credit: Google)

Area 120 has produced a range of projects since it launched in 2016 that have been integrated into the likes of Google Cloud, apps for Google Assistant, and new Search functionality.

Google previously built Android Vitals, an opt-in feature for Android that logs data through normal app use and sends it back to developers to provide greater insights into developers’ technical challenges.

“Joining Area 120 allowed us to focus full-time on creating a solution that simplifies privacy for developers distributing on both Android and iOS,” said Nia Castelly, co-founder and legal lead at Checks, and Fergus Hurley, co-founder and general manager at Checks.

“Over the past two years, our team has spent time listening to feedback from hundreds of mobile app developers on their approach to privacy, and partnered closely with 40 highly-engaged early adopters to refine our product and roadmap. We believe Checks will help mobile app developers of all sizes save time by replacing complicated processes and providing automated privacy insights.”

Interested parties can request early access to Checks as of now, with various pricing tiers on offer. A free version only checks against Google Play’s data safety section, the ‘Core’ tier checks against GDPR, the California Consumer Privacy Act, and more domestic regulations, costing $249 per app, per month.

The ‘Premium’ tier offers deeper insights into the app’s privacy policy, permissions, SDKs, and data sharing elements of the app, while the ‘Enterprise’ tier is priced on a bespoke basis. Subscriptions are limited to monthly payments at the time, meaning developers cannot pay for longer terms, though they can cancel at any time, Checks said.

Checks said it does not collect or store any app or user data, nor does it share anything with the Google Play team.

Connor Jones

Connor Jones has been at the forefront of global cyber security news coverage for the past few years, breaking developments on major stories such as LockBit’s ransomware attack on Royal Mail International, and many others. He has also made sporadic appearances on the ITPro Podcast discussing topics from home desk setups all the way to hacking systems using prosthetic limbs. He has a master’s degree in Magazine Journalism from the University of Sheffield, and has previously written for the likes of Red Bull Esports and UNILAD tech during his career that started in 2015.