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Google considers adding anti-tracking feature to Android

 


Google is considering developing its anti-tracking version of Android similar to Apple's upcoming app tracking Transparency, a new feature apple imposes on developers to request permission to track iOS users via apps and websites.

The news, first reported by Bloomberg, underscores the growing pressure on large technology companies, spurred by Apple, to take more proactive action to better protect user privacy.

Google did not say whether it was developing an anti-privacy measure for Android, but a company spokesman said: We are always looking for ways to work with developers to raise the level of privacy while enabling a healthy ecosystem of ad-backed applications.

App Tracking Transparency was first announced at apple's developers' conference last summer, where the feature effectively moves the system-wide subscription option between app tracking capabilities and user preferences.

If the user says he prefers not to follow it, there's nothing the developer can do to overcome it because Apple is disrupting the developer's ability to collect the so-called Advertiser ID or IDFA.

This ID allows advertisers to track users from one app or website to another to target ads while also helping advertisers measure the effectiveness of ads, such as whether a user ends up buying a product they saw in an app using the merchant's website.

Apple intends to monitor developers who use audits and other methods to enforce their policies, which include the possibility of suspending or blocking apps from the App Store if the developer does not comply. 

Both Facebook and Google have publicly expressed concern about how Apple's subscription requirements negatively affect their mobile advertising networks.

But Facebook took a step forward and started a public relations war against Apple over the change by complaining that it hurts small businesses and accused Apple of serving itself.

Google's position on combating tracking is probably not by the same force.

Instead of imposing subscription requirements on app developers, the Android alternative may resemble some of the upcoming planned privacy controls for Chrome, through which the company seeks to end some malicious tracking technologies by developing less intrusive alternatives and giving users more opt-out mechanisms.

Google's work to develop new web privacy practices and standards is known as Privacy Sandbox.

As part of this ongoing project, Google has taken steps to phase out external cookies via Chrome, developing tools that allow advertisers to target groups of users rather than directly target individuals.

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