Google working on Apple-like anti-tracking privacy feature for Android

Google is working on an anti-tracking feature for Android, similar to Apple’s. According to a Bloomberg report, the search giant is internally discussing how it can limit data collection and cross-app tracking on Android.

Google, which generates $100 billion in annual digit ads sales, is trying to keep in mind the need of both privacy-conscious consumers as well as the financial needs of developers, according to the report.  This is the reason why Google’s rules could be less stringent compared to Apple’s, which requires developers to take down their app from the App Store if they fail to meet the standard.

Apple’s anti-tracking feature, called ‘App Tracking Transparency’, will likely change the way app developers collect user data and share it with third-party platforms for ad targeting. The feature requires apps to explicitly ask for users’ permission before collecting and sharing their data. Notably, ‘App Tracking Transparency’ was scheduled to go live in September last year but was delayed to give more time to the developers to comply with Apple’s policy.

Apple started rolling out the new opt-in App Tracking Transparency feature last month with iOS 14.4 beta. It requires developers to get consent from iOS device owners for IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers) to collect data from their devices to share with advertisers. The security feature will be made available initially for Apple beta users, while non-beta users could get it sometime in the middle of the year.

The move will likely affect digital advertising companies including big ones like Facebook, given the privacy feature may discourage users from opting in, thus bringing down their advertisement sales. Facebook called out Apple in December for the privacy feature in two full-page ads in US newspapers including New York Times, Washington Post, and more. In the ads, Facebook said that “Apple’s forced software update” will limit businesses’ ability to run personalized ads and reach their customers effectively, adding that the changes will be devastating to small businesses.

Google’s privacy feature will be less strict and not require a prompt to opt in to data tracking like Apple’s, suggests the Bloomberg report. The move will let Google improve privacy for its users while keeping advertisers happy at the same time.

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