Google Announces the Privacy Sandbox on Android


Google has announced its intention in the coming years to introduce a new security feature for Android devices that will enable developers and publishers to continue providing their services and mobile apps for free to users without compromising their privacy.

This feature is called Privacy Sandbox, and it is based on the same approach as Google on the web, which aims to devise a new and effective way for publishers to continue to target users with ads, to keep the content they provide free, without the need to track the user and collect its personal data. Google's approach depends on dividing users into groups that have the same interests and thus targeting them with the same ads instead of tracking each user individually across sites and applications.

The Privacy Sandbox on Android feature is supposed to contribute to providing additional protection for users' privacy by eliminating the need to use third-party platforms and tools for individual tracking by application developers to target them with ads. These third-party tools sell the personal information they collect about the user to the developer for an advertising purpose, and they may use it for suspicious and anonymous purposes, which puts the privacy of users at risk.

The introduction of this feature is part of Google's efforts to protect the privacy of users, without affecting its advertising business on the Internet, which constitutes a large part of its profits. It also represented part of the company's response to the Apple's App Tracking Protection feature that it launched in the iOS 14.3 update last year, which limits the ability of applications to track users' activities across apps, which harmed companies such as Facebook that rely on this tracking to target users with ads. After Apple introduced this feature, Google was criticized for not providing a similar feature on Android to protect users.

Additionally, Google announced last year that starting in late 2021, when a user chooses to turn off interest-based ads or personalize ads in Android Settings, their advertising ID will no longer be available, and app or game developers will receive a string of zeros in place of the ID.

This change has already occurred through an update to Google Play Services for apps on devices running Android 12, and Google seeks to extend this update to all applications that work on Android phones, tablets, and Android TV that support Google Play on April 1, 2022.

Google also confirms that the Privacy Sandbox on Android feature does not give preferential treatment to Google's advertising products or sites and that the company is working with various organizations and partners to listen and share their feedback about this feature to succeed, in order to improve the privacy of ads on Android.

Starting today, developers can review initial design proposals and share feedback about the Privacy Sandbox on the Android developer site. Google plans to release developer previews over the course of the year, with a beta release by the end of the year.

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