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Google Is Making It Harder for Android Apps to Track Users Who Opt Out

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Google will make it harder for Android apps to track users who have opted out of personalized ads. Instead of showing the advertising IDs of such users, Google will show developers a string of zeros.

As a part of Google Play Services, Google provides developers with access to the advertising ID, which is unique to a device, so that they can track users across apps and services and show them personalized ads.

Google Beefs Up Its Privacy Measures

Google has silently updated its regulations related to advertising ID. In its Advertising ID support page, the company now states that starting in late 2021, it will provide developers with a “string of zeros” instead of the unique advertising ID for any user who opts out of personalized ads.

Google has also sent out an email to all Google Play developers informing them about this change.

Google notes that the phased rollout of this change will first affect Android 12 devices starting late 2021. It will then expand to affect all Android devices that access Google Play by early 2022.

Android apps

Seemingly, this change from Google means that users who previously opted out of personalized ads were still being tracked through their advertising ID for non-advertising purposes.

Developers also use the unique advertising ID for analytics and fraud prevention. Google says it will provide an alternate solution for such use cases in July. It will also inform developers via an alert in the Play Console and email if their apps do not adhere to the new policy.

Apple’s Privacy Measures Are Still Superior

Google’s changes to how it handles advertising ID come a few months after Apple rolled out some major changes to app tracking with iOS 14.5. While Apple has taken an opt-in approach to ad tracking, Google has taken an opt-out approach.

This means iPhone users will have to give apps explicit permission to track them and show personalized ads. You can read more about using App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14.5 to stop apps from tracking you here.

On Android, though, apps will be able to track users by default. Users will have to opt-out of personalized ad tracking to prevent this. If you are not fond of personalized ads or don’t want advertisers to track you across apps and services, Google now at least has a solution for you.

The latest privacy measures from Google build on top of the privacy-oriented features and changes it is debuting in Android 12. These improvements from Google should also help boost user confidence since Android is not really known for its privacy measures.

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