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Google wants to limit data tracking in Android apps



In the coming months, Apple will require app developers to disclose and enable tracking of tracking. A new report today states that Google is considering similar privacy measures for Android.

According to Bloomberg, “Google is Exploring an Alternative to Apple Inc.’s New Anti-Tracking Feature.” In particular, it seeks to limit data collection and tracking of apps as users become more aware of privacy given competing features of Apple to emphasize and advertise that aspect of the operating system.

However, the Android team needs to balance Google’s advertising business. Today̵

7;s report states that this effort will be “less stringent” than what Apple is doing by not requiring people to explicitly choose to track before they can continue using an application. Android today allows you to “opt out of ad registration” from system settings (Settings app> Privacy> Ads), as well as reset identifiers.

This approach in iOS is set to go live this spring and has been widely criticized by the advertising industry. End users are expected to refuse “tracking” when prompted, and will therefore no longer show personalized advertising. Generic ads instead will be less profitable. In fact, Google told developers who make money on apps with ads to expect a significant impact on revenue.

Google is still in the “early stages” of limiting tracking on Android. It seeks input from “stakeholders”, with the approach possibly modeled on the Privacy Sandbox and Chrome’s plan to replace third-party cookies with more privacy-conscious options. For example, a cookie replacement means that advertisers only target groups of users with similar interests, rather than individuals.

Bloomberg reports that the company “has not decided when, or whether it will continue with the changes.” Given that, it is unclear whether the measures will be included in Android 12, or launched with the next release.

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