Google wants to limit how much your Android phone knows about you

Android
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Google is working on an anti-tracking feature similar to Apple’s own App Tracking Transparency solution, but the company wants to limit data collection and cross-app tracking on Android devices.

According to Bloomberg (opens in new tab), Google is in the early stages of exploring ways to improve privacy for Android users. Although Google’s initial proposals for the feature are not believed to be as stringent as those being pushed by Apple, the fact that such as feature is being explored at all suggests that the company realizes that achieving some level of privacy within an ad-based funding model is important for consumers.

“We’re always looking for ways to work with developers to raise the bar on privacy while enabling a healthy, ad-supported app ecosystem,” a Google spokesman told Bloomberg.

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A balancing act

With Apple’s solution, developers will soon be required to ask for user permission before advertisers are allowed to track activity across apps and websites. 

Without this permission, it will essentially be impossible to serve individuals with targeted ads. Facebook and other organizations within the online ad community have argued that the move could see ad revenue plummet.

Despite details being thin on the ground at the moment, it is thought that Google’s alternative, should it be launched, is likely to mirror the firm’s Privacy Sandbox (opens in new tab) initiative that includes a workaround for advertisers in exchange for eliminating third-party cookies in Chrome. Instead of tracking individuals, advertisers will be allowed to target groups of people with similar interests.

For many of the major technological players, the question of how much user privacy to grant is a difficult one to answer. Many digital firms, Google included, rely heavily on ad revenue to deliver their online services. Any efforts to protect privacy, therefore, must also avoid angering advertisers.

Via Engadget (opens in new tab)

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with ITProPortal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.