Google is considering developing an Android alternative to Apple’s upcoming App Tracking Transparency, a new planned optional requirement the iPhone maker will impose on developers who require them to ask permission to track iOS users across apps and websites. The news, first reported Thursday by Bloomberg, underscores the growing pressure on large technology companies, many encouraged by Apple, to take more proactive action to better protect users’ privacy.
Google will not say whether it really works on an anti-tracking privacy measure for Android. But in a statement, a Google spokesman said The Verge“We are always looking for ways to work with developers to raise the bar for privacy, while enabling a healthy, ad-supported app ecosystem.”
First announced at Apple’s developer conference last summer, App Tracking Transparency effectively slides a system-level choice between an app’s tracking features and a user’s preferences. If the user says they would rather not be tracked, there is nothing the developer can do to get around it because Apple will disable a developer’s ability to collect the so-called Identifier for Adverters code, or IDFA. That code allows both advertisers to track users from one app or site to another for ad targeting, while also helping advertisers measure the effectiveness of ads, such as whether a user ends up buying a product they saw on an app by use the seller of the mobile site. .
Apple intends to provide police developers with oversight and other methods of enforcing its policies, which include potentially suspending or banning apps from the App Store if a developer fails to comply. Both Facebook and Google have publicly expressed concern about how Apple’s election requirements could adversely affect their mobile ad network. But Facebook has gone a step further and started waging a PR war against Apple over the change by complaining that it will hurt small businesses and accusing Apple of being self-serving.
Google’s insight into app tracking is unlikely to be so serious, Bloomberg reports. Instead of forcing optional requirements on app developers, the Android option may be similar to some of the upcoming privacy checks planned for Google’s Chrome browser, where the company seeks to end some of the more insidious tracking technologies on the web today by developing less invasive options. and provide users with multiple opt-out mechanisms.
Google’s work to develop new privacy practices and standards for the web is known as the Privacy Sandbox. As part of the ongoing project, Google has taken steps to phase out third-party cookies on Chrome and is working on tools that allow advertisers to target user groups instead of directly targeting individuals. All of this can inform how Google is developing an anti-tracking target for Android, Bloomberg reports.