Google will make it harder for Android apps to track users who’ve opted out of personalised ads

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Apple may have started something here. Google has revealed that it’s about to make it harder to apps to track Android users who have opted out of personalised ads, by removing access to so-called Advertising IDs after a user opts out of tracking. Instead, developers will be shown a string of nothing but zeroes.

Now, if you make your money by tracking users wherever they go on the internet, that’s not great news. Facebook has already found that out thanks to Apple’s move in this direction. Google’s take on it might just upset Zuckerberg and co. a little more than they already were.

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Google made the announcement in an email to Play Store developers, and has since updated the support page for the Advertising ID. It now has an entry that explains: “Starting in late 2021, when a user opts out of interest-based advertising or ads personalization, the advertising identifier will not be available. You will receive a string of zeros in place of the identifier.”

You’ve been able to opt-out of personalised ads for some time on Android, but that hasn’t meant you can’t be tracked. Some apps still had access to your Advertising ID, for various reasons. That access, no matter what isn’t being used for, will be gone soon… if you’ve opted out of tracking.

But not right away. Android 12 devices will be the first to see enhanced opt-out implemented later this year, followed by all Android devices sometime in 2022. But, unlike Apple’s tracking transparency efforts, Google won’t be notifying all of its users that this is an option. It’ll rely instead on users opting out rather than opting into ad tracking — which, considering how much money Google makes from service ads, makes sense from their perspective.

Source: Financial Times

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