Google's Privacy Sandbox seeks to reduce tracking of users on Android and the Web

Google's Privacy Sandbox seeks to reduce tracking of users on Android and the Web
The release of Apple's App Tracking Transparency (ATT) in iOS 14.5 allowed iOS users to opt-out of being tracked by third-party apps and websites. Those who opted out of tracking would no longer receive customized ads. Meta, one of the first to moan about ATT when it was announced, is going to lose $10 billion in revenue this year because of the feature.

Somewhere at Meta headquarters, you'd expect co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to be having a fit. That's because Google announced today a "multi-year initiative to to build the Privacy Sandbox on Android and the web, with the goal of introducing new, more private advertising solutions." The company says that this will limit the sharing of user data with third parties.

Google's Privacy Sandbox will stop the use of advertising IDs on Android

Last June, before Apple launched ATT, Facebook (now Meta) was valued at more than 1 trillion dollars. Now that Apple is allowing iOS users to opt-out of being tracked, the value of Meta has dropped to under $600 billion. Surprisingly, though, Meta actually supports Privacy Sandbox.

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Graham Mudd, vice president of product marketing, ads and business at Facebook, posted on Twitter, ″[It is] encouraging to see this long-term, collaborative approach to privacy-protective personalized advertising from Google. We look forward to continued work with them and the industry on privacy-enhancing tech through industry groups."

Google says that advertising is a key part in delivering the internet experience to users. However, Google does admit that some of the tools needed to deliver the online experience to consumers do need to be replaced. Google states that Privacy Sandbox will operate without using cross-app identifiers and will not use advertising ID numbers that can track users online.

The company also wants to rid the internet of what it calls "covert data collection." With the Privacy Sandbox, Google aims to improve user privacy without blocking access to free content and services. The goal is to develop advertising solutions that protect users' data while still allowing developers and businesses the opportunity to have successful mobile businesses.

Users shouldn't have to worry about their personal data while browsing the web and using apps. The company states, "The Privacy Sandbox technologies aim to make current tracking mechanisms obsolete, and block covert tracking techniques, like fingerprinting."

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Another major goal that Google has is to keep the information and data that billions can currently access for free, remain available at no cost. The firm states, "To provide this free resource without relying on intrusive tracking, publishers and developers need privacy-preserving alternatives for their key business needs, including serving relevant content and ads."

Privacy Sandbox is more complex than Apple's ATT for iOS

Lastly, Google wants to sit down with publishers, developers, advertisers, and others to create standards that could lead to safer web browsing and app usage.
Google says that it could take at least two years for it to design, build, and test its new solutions.

As a result, it will support existing ad platforms for at least two years and will give advance notice when it plans to make any substantial changes. Google has created a website about the Privacy Sandbox made for developers that include a timeline.

For the rest of 2022, Google says that it will release updates to designs proposals and also drop initial developer previews for early testing. By the end of this year, Google says that it will issue a Beta release of the SDK Runtime and privacy-preserving APIs.

To reiterate, Google says that it could take as long as two years to have this initiative up and running. Also, keep in mind that this is a more complicated system than Apple's ATT and has many more moving parts than ATT. Don't expect to see any overt changes to surface for some time.

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