According to people familiar with the matter, Google is exploring alternatives to Apple’s new anti-tracking feature, which is the latest sign that the Internet industry is slowly embracing user privacy.
People familiar with the matter said that internally, the search giant is discussing how to restrict data collection and cross-application tracking on the Android operating system in a looser way than Apple’s solution.

Google tries to strike a balance between the growing needs of privacy-conscious consumers and the financial needs of developers and advertisers. The Alphabet department is seeking the opinions of these stakeholders, similar to the fact that it is slowly developing a new privacy standard for web browsing called the “privacy sandbox.”

Google’s annual digital advertising sales exceed US$100 billion (approximately Rs 729.2 billion), and it has a vested interest in helping partners continue to generate revenue by targeting ads to Android device users and measuring the effectiveness of these marketing points.

A Google spokesperson said in a statement: “We are always looking for ways to work with developers to improve privacy standards while building a healthy, ad-supported application ecosystem.”

In the upcoming software updates for iPhone models and iPad units (called iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5), Apple has added a new feature called “App Tracking Transparency.” This tool allows consumers to choose whether an application can collect data about them across other applications and websites. The imminent move shook the digital advertising industry. Facebook and other companies complain that this feature will limit its ability to effectively provide personalized advertising and generate revenue.

People familiar with the matter said that Google’s solution may be less strict and does not require immediate opt-in data tracking like Apple does. The exploration of Apple’s functional Android alternatives is still in the early stages, and Google has not yet decided when or whether it will make changes.

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On the iPhone, Google provides a framework for developers to make money using Google ads. Google said in a recent blog post that Apple’s ad tracking update means that developers “may see a significant impact on their ad revenue.”

People familiar with the matter said that in order to satisfy advertisers and improve privacy, discussions surrounding Google’s Android solution indicate that the solution may be similar to the planned Chrome Web browser changes. The company said in 2020 that it intends to phase out third-party cookies in Chrome within two years. Google reiterated the plan earlier this year. Cookies are a way for websites to track web users and provide them with more personalized advertisements.

Google’s web alternative (called a “privacy sandbox”) allows less specific data collection to target certain ads. As part of the solution, the company has developed a technology called the “United Learning Consortium”, which allows advertisers to target people with similar interests instead of individuals. Google may adopt a similar approach on Android.

©2021 Bloomberg

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