Google has announced plans to strengthen user privacy on Android with a new initiative that will put an end to cross-app tracking on Android over the next two years, making it more difficult for advertisers to track users across other apps.
In a blog post, Google announced a multi-year project named “Privacy Sandbox” that introduces “more private advertising solutions” for mobile apps. The cornerstone of Privacy Sandbox will limit data shared with other third-party apps, making it more difficult for advertisers to build a profile of users for targeted advertising purposes.
Today, we’re announcing a multi-year initiative to build the Privacy Sandbox on Android, with the goal of introducing new, more private advertising solutions. Specifically, these solutions will limit sharing of user data with third parties and operate without cross-app identifiers, including advertising ID.
The new initiative will draw similarities with Apple’s App Tracking Transparency framework (ATT) that launched with iOS 14.5 last year. Unlike Apple’s ATT, which requires all apps to ask for user consent before tracking them across other apps and websites, however, Google’s Privacy Sandbox will limit app ability as default while also looking for new privacy-preserving ways to enable mobile advertising.
Announcing Privacy Sandbox today, Google seemingly took aim at Apple’s ATT framework, saying “blunt approaches are proving ineffective” and that “other platforms have taken a different approach to ads privacy, bluntly restricting existing technologies used by developers and advertisers.” The goal with Privacy Sandbox is for “users [to] know their information is protected, and developers and businesses have the tools to succeed on mobile,” according to Google.
Apple’s ATT prompt shown to all users when an app is first opened on iOS 14.5 and later
Soon after Apple previewed ATT and following its launch with iOS 14.5 last year, Facebook, now renamed to Meta, became vocal about its displeasure with the new requirement amid fears it would significantly impact its advertising business. Its fears seemingly became true, with the social media giant saying ATT will cost it $10 billion in lost revenue this year.
Google’s approach is striking a different tone, with Snapchat, who had previously said ATT presented a “risk” to its business, saying in a statement that it is “excited to collaborate with Google to develop new privacy-preserving standards for Android.” Google said it would receive input across the industry as it builds Privacy Sandbox over the next two years.