Google contemplates softer take on App Tracking Transparency

App Tracking Transparency

Google is contemplating developing an Android version of Apple’s upcoming App Tracking Transparency update, which is a newly planned opt-in requirement the iPhone maker will force on developers to ask permission from iPhone users before tracking their data.

The news – first brought to light by Bloomberg – highlights the increased spotlight placed on online and digital data privacy, with Big Tech being pressured to enact proactive measures to shield user privacy.

However, according to anonymous sources cited by Bloomberg who are familiar with the plan, it remains unknown when, or if, the search engine will develop its own twist on anti-tracking privacy measures for its operating system, as the project remains internal.

“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 spokesman said in a statement.

App Tracking Transparency – initially announced by Apple during its developer conference last summer – places a system-level choice in between an application’s data tracking abilities and a user’s preferences and data.

Plans for rollout of the software update will be published for iPhones and iPads, called iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5.

If users decide to deny access to their data, then developers have no way to get around it since Apple will disable developers’ ability to gather the so-called Identifier for Advertisers code, or IDFA.

IDFA allows advertisers to track user activity and behavior from one app or website to another for the purpose of targeted ads, as it also aids advertisersin evaluating the effectiveness of the ads placed – in other words, if the ad was successful in persuading a user to purchase a product they’ve seen online.

Google’s softer touch

Apple intends to police developers on its platforms to properly enforce their policies, to the extent of potentially suspending or banning apps who fail to comply from their App Store.

The announcement shook the online advertising industry to the core, as Facebook and Google publicly and severely highlighted how its opt-in requirement could reflect negatively on their advertising networks.

However, social media giant Facebook has taken it upon itself to wage a public relations war with Apple Inc., claiming that the update will harm the growth of small businesses online, while accusing the iPhone maker of being self-serving.

According to Bloomberg’s sources, Google’s approach to App Tracking Transparency would be less severe, resembling the upcoming privacy control settings planned for the Google Chrome browser.

The search-engine giant is looking into halting malicious tracking technologies to offer less invasive alternatives, while offering more opt-out options.

According to statements made by Google, Google’s work to develop new privacy practices and standards for the web is known as the Privacy Sandbox. The project will seek to freeze third-party cookies from Chrome, while offering advertisers tools that would target users in groups rather than individual targeting.

The softer approach contemplated by Google is an attempt to bridge the needs between offering consumers more privacy while meeting the financial demands of its developers. According to Bloomberg, the Alphabet Inc. parent of Google is seeking input from these stakeholders on how to move forward.