Ther’e’s no doubt Apple is at war with the other major tech companies. But has that unfriendly competition led to any influence on the industry? Google answered that question in a big way when it announced “Android Privacy Sandbox,” a new feature that seems to be competition for Apple’s newer privacy practices.
Apple’s Privacy Option
Apple’s new policy had an immediate effect on the market. Along with Google, Facebook is another company that makes its profits from forcing ads on its users. CEO Mark Zuckerberg fought Apple’s change, but there wasn’t much he could do to stop it. Apple’s users who use Facebook can now opt out of the advertising. It led to a $10 billion loss for Facebook in one year.
By using the word “Sandbox,” it leads you to think of light, airy fun. Yet, it’s more of a play on Google’s “Chrome Privacy Sandbox.” This program blocks third-party cookies. But Google didn’t mention blocking or limiting tracking in its announcement.
Not that Google couldn’t do that for Android users. It could enforce privacy on developers in Google Play the same as Apple has in the App Store.
Google Introduces Advertising Privacy Sandbox
Google opened its announcement by claiming, “Mobile apps are a core part of our everyday lives. Currently, over 90% of the apps on Google Play are free, providing access to valuable content to billions of users.
But then it went on to say, “Digital advertising plays a key role in making this possible. But to ensure a healthy app ecosystem – benefitting users, developers and businesses – the industry must continue to evolve how digital advertising works to improve user privacy.”
When it introduced Android Privacy Soundbox, the blog post noted its “goal of introducing new, more private advertising solutions.” It did add, “We’re also exploring technologies that reduce the potential for covert data collection, including safer ways for apps to integrate with advertising SDKs.”
This new initiative “builds on our existing efforts on the Web, providing a clear path forward to improve user privacy without putting access to free content and services at risk,” added Google.
But while ads are being limited and reducing data collection is being explored, which every user will appreciate, Google is not limiting or banning tracking. That’s still something users will not have control over.
The announcement did call out Apple, stopping short of calling the company out by name: “We realize that other platforms have taken a different approach to ads privacy, bluntly restricting existing technologies used by developers and advertisers.
“We believe that – without first providing a privacy-preserving alternative path – such approaches can be ineffective and lead to worse outcomes for user privacy and developer businesses.”
It’s not clear how it sees Apple’s method as “ineffective” or leading to “worse outcomes.” Facebook’s $10 billion loss seems pretty effective.
Google once again explained its goal, saying it is to “develop effective and privacy-enhancing advertising solutions, where users know their information is protected, and developers and businesses have the tools to succeed on mobile.”
Developers will have the chance to help guide the sandbox, but interestingly, users aren’t being invited to play. Although, Google was proud to include Snap’s quote of being “excited to collaborate with Google.”
It will also be working with regulators to ensure that “we don’t give preferential treatment to Google’s ads products or sales.” That should be something it does automatically, whether it’s Google, Apple, Facebook, or another big tech company.
In other words, Google will allow regulators to make sure it plays nice in the sandbox and will invite developers to come play, too, later this year when Android Privacy Sandbox is expected to be released. But there won’t be enough room for users.
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