Google follows Apple, looks to stop Android apps tracking users

google play store icon
(Image credit: Shutterstock)
Audio player loading…

Google will soon introduce a mechanism to enhance the privacy protections of Android users (opens in new tab), according to details the company shared with Android mobile app developers (opens in new tab).

Google announced the change in an email to all Play Store developers, arguing that the proposed change will “give users more control over their data for greater security and privacy.” 

As per the note, the company wants to make it harder for advertisers to track users as they move between apps. The update is similar to how Apple strengthened the privacy of iOS users by turning off tracking by default and allowing users to opt in when needed.

TechRadar needs yo...

We're looking at how our readers use VPN for a forthcoming in-depth report. We'd love to hear your thoughts in the survey below. It won't take more than 60 seconds of your time.

>> Click here to start the survey in a new window (opens in new tab)<<

Advertising ID

Google plans to add an additional opt-out option that will prevent their devices from sharing the Advertising ID that marketers use for tracking purposes.

Currently, Android users who have opted out of tracking and personalized advertising are still tagged by the Advertising ID when they open an app. This is because the Advertising ID is used for non-marketing purposes as well such as analytics and fraud detection. 

However, to prevent unscrupulous marketers from exploiting the Advertising ID of users who’ve opted-out, beginning later this year, Android will spit out only a string of zeros, instead of the ID.

The update is similar to how Apple strips the ID for Advertising (IDFA) (opens in new tab) when iOS 14.5 users opt out of tracking. Google also recently asked developers to reveal details (opens in new tab) about their data collection practices, in a move reminiscent of Apple’s use of privacy labels (opens in new tab) on its App Store.

In a support page, Google informed the developers that it will release an alternative to the Advertising ID in July in order to support analytics and fraud detection use cases.

Via The Verge (opens in new tab)

With almost two decades of writing and reporting on Linux, Mayank Sharma would like everyone to think he’s TechRadar Pro’s expert on the topic. Of course, he’s just as interested in other computing topics, particularly cybersecurity, cloud, containers, and coding.