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Android apps are getting a privacy update to prevent them from tracking users who have already opted out of receiving personalized ads. 

Google announced that it would change how it will handle the device identifiers that allow third-party marketers to track users between apps. 

Android Apps Will No Longer Track Users

According to The Financial Times, starting later this year, Google is cutting off any access to Advertising IDs after a user opts out, and it will show developers a string of zeros in its place.

The news about the new policy was announced in an email to Play Store developers, and Google has also updated its support page for Advertising IDs with the announcement.

Google told the developers that the new changes will provide the users with more control over their data, and it will help bolster security and privacy.

Also Read: Browsers Want to Block Google FloC; Wordpress Calls Ad-Targeting Mechanism as 'Terrible Idea'

The change about Google's policy came a few months after Apple overhauled how advertising IDs work on iOS in an apparent attempt to compete with Apple's new security policy.

Google has also announced that it is adding privacy information to its Play Store listings. This mirrors a similar feature Apple added to its App Store in 2020 and limits which apps can see what you have installed on your smartphone.

Users have long been able to opt-out of personalized ads on Android. Users can do so by going into their Settings app, clicking on the Google menu, and selecting Ads.

However, it seems that this does not currently stop developers from being able to access the user's advertising ID entirely.

According to AdExchanger, the apps have previously used the identifier for non-advertising purposes like analytics and fraud prevention, and Google's support page says that it will announce an alternate solution for these use cases starting July.

Google's support page stated that the rollout of the new privacy policy will happen in phases. Android 12 devices will begin seeing the change in late 2021 before it rolls out to all of the devices with Google Play in early 2022.

According to XDA Developers, Google Play Services will also notify existing apps with access to a user's advertising ID and related data so that this can be deleted where appropriate.

Although Google's announcement follows Apple's own ad tracking changes, it is still unclear how similar the two approaches will be.

On Google's support page, the company still refers to stopping ad tracking as an opt-out process for users.

Meanwhile, Apple's changes effectively make tracking an opt-in decision. However, regardless of how Google eventually handles the process, it will be another massive change for the digital advertising industry.

Apple's Privacy Policy

Apple's latest policy called App Tracking Transparency does not make any seismic changes to how iOS handles ad tracking on its own.

Users have been able to opt-out of IDFA-based tracking in the past, but the new update puts the choice front and center.

The App Tracking Transparency forces developers to give Apple users a choice. For example, when the App Tracking Transparency update was added to iOS 14.5, every single ad company that wanted to track users across numerous apps and websites had to ask permission first. 

The ad companies had to use Apple's standardized prompt. This is the same system that Google wants to apply to its Android software. 

Related Article: iOS 14.5 to Have Controversial Security Update: App Tracking Transparency Will Arrive, Soon

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Written by Sophie Webster

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