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Google Makes It Harder For Android Apps To Track Users

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Google has announced to disable ‘Advertising IDs’ for users who opt out of tracking by Android apps, and will show developers a ‘string of zeros’ in its place, as the tech giant plans to give users more control over who can use and share their data.

Starting in late 2021, when a user opts out of interest-based advertising or ads personalization, the advertising identifier will not be available.

“You will receive a string of zeros in place of the identifier,” Google said in a latest update.

Google has told Play Store developers in an email the changes will “provide users with more control over their data, and help bolster security and privacy,” reports the Financial Times.

The advertising ID is a unique, user-resettable ID for advertising, provided by Google Play services. It gives users better controls and provides developers with a simple, standard system to continue to monetize their apps.

Also see: Only 13% iOS Users Have Enabled App Tracking

As part of Google Play services update in late 2021, the advertising ID will be removed when a user opts out of personalization using advertising ID in Android Settings.

“To help developers and ad/analytics service providers with compliance efforts and respect user choice, they will be able to receive notifications for opt-out preferences. Additionally, apps targeting Android 12 will need to declare a Google Play services normal permission in the manifest file,” the company explained.

This Google Play services phased rollout will affect apps running on Android 12 devices starting late 2021, and will expand to affect apps running on devices that support Google Play in early 2022.

After Apple gave users more control over their data sharing with app developers, Google last month now pre-announced an upcoming safety section in Google Play that will help people understand the data an app collects or shares.

Starting Q2 2022, new app submissions and app updates will ask developers to include the information like what sort of data apps collect, how it’s stored and how it’s used.

Google will ask developers to share what type of data is collected and stored like users’ precise location, contacts, personal information (name, email address), photos and videos, audio files, and storage files.

The company will also ask developers how the data is used, like app functionality and personalization.

On new privacy controls in iOS 14.5, Apple has said that the App Tracking Transparency requires apps to get the user’s permission before tracking their data across apps or websites owned by other companies for advertising, or sharing their data with data brokers.