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The move represents a multiyear initiative to improve Android privacy

Google this week announced that it’s launching a multiyear initiative to improve privacy for users of its Android operating system.  The initiative primarily targets mobile advertising. More than 90% of the apps on Google Play are free, Google says, and many of those apps make money by displaying targeted ads to users. 

Android developers currently use something called advertising ID to deliver targeted ads. The feature enables apps to collect data about their users’ areas of interest. The apps can then use this info to deliver personalized ads tailored for each user’s preferences.

Privacy Sandbox for Android aims to replace advertising ID with more privacy-friendly technologies. The goal is to limit the amount of user data that apps can collect. But Google asserts that it will still ensure that brands can deliver mobile ads that are relevant to their customers’ interests. 

Balancing users’ interests with those of industry

Anthony Chavez, vice president of product management for Android Security & Privacy, described the initiative in a in a blog post. “These solutions will limit sharing of user data with third parties and operate without cross-app identifiers, including advertising ID,” he wrote. “We’re also exploring technologies that reduce the potential for covert data collection, including safer ways for apps to integrate with advertising SDKs.”

Our goal with the Privacy Sandbox on Android is to develop effective and privacy enhancing advertising solutions, where users know their information is protected, and developers and businesses have the tools to succeed on mobile. While we design, build and test these new solutions, we plan to support existing ads platform features for at least two years, and we intend to provide substantial notice ahead of any future changes.

Still, Google is not forgetting which side of their bread is buttered. Chavez reaffirms the company’s commitments to industry. “We know this initiative needs input from across the industry in order to succeed. We’ve already heard from many partners about their interest in working together to improve ads privacy on Android, and invite more organizations to participate.”