Google is working on a number of measures to limit the amount of user data gathered from Android users.
In a blog post, they write that, among other measures, they will remove sharing of identifiable data across apps so that you can no longer be tracked in the same way as before.
It’s the exact same measure Apple rolled out on its devices last year, in the face of tremendous opposition from giants like Facebook. When Facebook recently released its quarterly numbers, Mark Zuckerberg went as far as to say that the company lost $10 billion due to Apple’s change in privacy settings.
Google’s new “Privacy Sandbox,” as the feature is called, is good news for consumers, but bad news for big companies that make money off your personal data.
The blog post Google published describing what the Privacy Sandbox is supposed to do points out two things: Their actions should not hit advertisers that hard, and they will not be exactly like Apple’s. They do not mention Apple by name, but there’s little doubt who they mean in paragraphs like this:
“We realize that other platforms have taken a different approach to ads privacy, bluntly restricting existing technologies used by developers and advertisers. We believe that — without first providing a privacy-preserving alternative path — such approaches can be ineffective and lead to worse outcomes for user privacy and developer businesses.”
They also refer to a study conducted by Google itself, which indicates that Apple’s blocking of data sharing across apps might not be that effective after all.
Google, however, says outright that they also plan to restrict identifiable data across apps:
“Specifically, these solutions will limit sharing of user data with third parties and operate without cross-app identifiers, including advertising ID”, they write in the blog post.
Google is still in the early stages of development and is trying to reassure frightened advertisers by saying it will support the current technology for at least two more years. Then they will make changes, but they do not want them to be as intrusive or restrictive as Apple’s more direct approach.
They say they will work closely with industry and regulators to develop the new systems, and that “everyone” will be happy with the end result:
“Our goal with the Privacy Sandbox on Android is to develop effective and privacy-enhancing advertising solutions, where users know their information is protected, and developers and businesses have the tools to succeed on mobile.”
“We’re also committed to working closely with regulators. We’ve offered public commitments for our Privacy Sandbox efforts on the web, including ensuring that we don’t give preferential treatment to Google’s ads products or sites. We’ll apply these principles to our Android work as well, and continue working with the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority, and others.”