It’s possible in the coming future that we might witness the launch of an Android anti-tracking feature from Google in the wake of the privacy features being implemented by Apple in the iOS 14 update.
To recall, Apple’s iOS anti-tracking features have become a controversial topic and have faced a backlash from tech giants like Facebook. The reason — it might take a toll on the ad revenue generated by internet companies and developers. These advertisements enable us to use their services for free.
But at the same time, the privacy buzzword has become more visible than ever and people are concerned about how and where their data is being used. That’s why, as reported by Bloomberg, Google is also following Apple’s footsteps and reportedly having internal discussions on anti-tracking features for Android.
What are the rumored Android Anti-Tracking Features?
As per reports, the upcoming anti-tracking features for Android will limit the tracking being done for ad targeting. While the exact details remain uncovered, the company is expected to reduce cross-app tracking and data collection on devices.
How will it be different from Apple’s privacy features?
Google, being a company whose bread and butter depends on the ad business, is obviously expected to keep its Android anti-tracking feature less policing than iOS. For example, Android may not provide an opt-out option to the users to prevent cross-app tracking, thereby, seesawing between users’ privacy needs and the tracking features needed for ad targeting.
The search giant has previously emphasized that Apple’s privacy features might have a “significant impact” on developer revenue. Therefore, it seems unlikely that Google would go to the same extent when (or if) the feature gets implemented.
“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 spokesperson said.
Google is already working on some privacy features for its web browser Chrome, which includes doing away with third-party cookies. These cookies are often used to track user activities across websites, which, in turn, fuel the ad business.
The search giant has said in the past that it would phase out third-party cookies on Chrome over the next couple of years. It’s working on an alternative called Privacy Sandbox that will rely on less-specific data collection.
Nonetheless, creating a fence on its own seems to be a wiser move than waiting for the lawmakers to step in who might introduce something harsh enough to upset the tech giants.
What does all of this mean for the end-user?
It’s now an established fact that tech companies rely heavily on cross-device user tracking and the resulting ad revenue to continue offering free services. They want to keep it free in order to attract more userbase and choose to charge the businesses promoting products and services. Since the end users have become more vigilant over the years, ad companies will have to loosen their grip on the data a little. Also, won’t these businesses pass on the extra cash expense onto our shoulders?
So, what’s the end game to achieve privacy? While the closest thing is going for the paid model, but the question still needs an answer. Maybe, for now, limiting the ad tracking will allow the existing systems to continue to work as intended.