Google Tightens Privacy Policy for Loan Apps

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Google has announced that it will update its privacy policy on May 31 to prohibit loan apps from accessing sensitive user data such as photos and contacts.

The move is aimed at tackling the predatory practices of rogue lenders in the personal loan space. In a statement, Google said that “apps aiming to provide or facilitate personal loans may not access user contacts or photos” as part of the new policy update.

This development is in line with Kenya’s Digital Credit Providers Regulations 2021, which were introduced to protect consumers from predatory lending practices.

The laws give the Central Bank of Kenya powers to revoke the licences of lenders who harass borrowers with intrusive phone calls to friends and family, as well as requiring lenders to disclose all charges, including interest rates and late payment fees, before disbursing loans to customers.

Since December 2021, Google has declined to host mobile loan apps without certification from the Central Bank of Kenya on its PlayStore, and this latest policy update means that loan apps will not be able to access sensitive user data in the first place.

“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 move comes after the data protection commissioner received over 1,000 complaints from borrowers about data breaches by digital lenders in October 2022.