App Tracking Transparency, one of the major features on Apple’s iOS and iPadOS platforms, has dominated the debates over internet privacy in the past couple of weeks. Facebook, in particular, has started a campaign against the same. Now, making things tough for the social network, Google is expected to bring an Android alternative to the feature to the open-source Operating System for smartphones. It isn’t a surprising move, considering that the Tracking Transparency feature has prompted thousands of users to demand better ways to understand how they are tracked through their devices.
It is worth noting that Google has not yet confirmed this claim in its entirety. The company’s spokesperson told The Verge that the tech giant is working to bring a healthy ad-supported app ecosystem on the Android platform but refused to comment on whether an anti-tracking feature is in the works. However, considering that Google has introduced many features that help users control the permissions given to individual apps, we will very likely see such a feature in the future releases of the Android OS. The question is whether the anti-tracking system would be as strict as the one proposed by Apple.
We still have to consider these claims with a grain of salt, though. This is because Google was one of the first companies to express its disapproval of the App Tracking Transparency feature from Apple. It was based on the idea that Apple’s move to establish a norm for tracking transparency will harm the advertising structure that Google uses on mobile devices. As per the standard, Google would have to let users know when its apps or services are being used to track users’ activities on the internet. Therefore, the company would have to stop at some point so that it doesn’t hurt its advertising business.
Some publications report that Google may indeed be working on a lighter version of tracking transparency, similar to the one seen on Google Chrome browsers for desktop and mobile devices. New versions of the popular web browser make it easy for customers to stay away from tracking. The new system may also take a few points from the Privacy Sandbox package that Google has been working on. Privacy Sandbox has been designed to create a healthier advertising system, where the advertisers can target groups of customers in place of individual customers.
By choosing a toned-down version of the tracking transparency feature, Google can stop itself from biting its tail. Simultaneously, the feature would give the necessary solace to customers who want to improve the protection from digital fingerprinting and across-the-web tracking for targeted advertising. However, we will have to wait until the next big Android release to see if the Android user-base can benefit from improved privacy. Until then, those who are in grave need of privacy will have to ditch Android for Apple’s iOS, which may not be a budget-friendly decision, after all.