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14 February 2013, 12:11

Google Play Store's "privacy problem" is taxing

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Google Play Store logo Google's Play Store is giving out email addresses, post codes and full names to the seller of an Android application whenever an app is purchased, according to an Australian developer's report. Calling it a "massive, massive privacy issue", Dan Nolan says "Google. Fix it. Immediately". The problem is that Google may not be able to fix it, as it appears to be related to how users and developers do business on Google's Play Store.

Another developer, Eric Butler, pointed out in a blog post that he had noted the issue of details being shared in July 2012 and other developers had observed the same problem. It was in one of the later discussions that a Google employee explained that the details were handed over because the developer was the merchant of record and had a number of responsibilities legally regarding taxes. Further details are available in a Google Help document which explained that pricing in many national stores was regarded as tax-inclusive and that it was the merchant of record's job to work out in which countries they owed tax. The information about purchases sent by Google was supplied for that purpose.

Apple's App Store operates in a different way with Apple performing the sale, managing the sales taxes and being merchant of record. It then pays the developer in a separate transaction and therefore the developer doesn't need to see, or get to see, any of the purchaser's details.

The problem for Google though is that it doesn't make it clear how its store operates, either to customers or developers. Customers do not realise that they will have their information disclosed to developers and developers are often unaware of the taxation requirements or customer information being given to them by Google.


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