Google to bar loan apps from photos, contacts


Google logo at the Googleplex in Menlo Park, California. FILE PHOTO | AFP

Google will from May 31 update its privacy policy to restrict apps that offer personal loans from accessing sensitive user data such as photos and contacts as the tech giant ups its game to tame the predatory behaviour of rogue lenders.

The search engine firm pushed an update on its personal loans policy indicating it will from May 31 prohibit money lending apps from accessing user contacts and photos.

“Effective May 31, 2023, we’re updating our personal loans policy to state that apps aiming to provide or facilitate personal loans may not access user contacts or photos,” said Google.

Read: How Google Play changes will affect digital lenders

The move is in line with Kenya’s strict consumer protection rules introduced by the Digital Credit Providers Regulations 2021, whose implementation by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) started in December last year.

The laws, which give CBK powers to revoke the licences of offenders are tailored to prevent mobile loan lenders from pestering defaulters with intrusive phone calls to friends, associates and family in the name-and-shame tactics meant to recover money.

They also require the lenders to disclose the total charges for their loans, including interest rates, late payment and roll-over fees, before disbursing credit to customers.

Google has since December 15 last year declined to host mobile loan apps without CBK certification on its PlayStore. Play Store allows web and Android users to access applications for their phones.

“Currently, we only accept declarations and licences from entities published under the Directory of Digital Credit Providers on the official website of the CBK,” Google said in a past update.

The prohibition in the tech giant’s policy update next month will mean that the protection of client data will not be left in the hands of the digital credit givers but they will not access it in the first place.

Read: Digital lenders protest CBK nod delay amid Google ban

In October last year, up to 40 digital lenders came under the radar of the data protection commissioner after the regulator reported receiving 1,030 complaints from borrowers who said the confidentiality of their personal information had been breached.

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