Google has introduced the Privacy Sandbox. This news was announced on Google’s The Keyword blog. The purpose of this new feature appears to be to “evolve how digital advertising works to improve user privacy.”
Today, we’re announcing a multi-year initiative to build the Privacy Sandbox on Android with the goal of introducing new, more private advertising solutions. Specifically, these solutions will limit sharing of user data with third parties and operate without cross-app identifiers, including advertising ID. We’re also exploring technologies that reduce the potential for covert data collection, including safer ways to integrate with advertising SDK’s.
Google claims that the goal with the Privacy Sandbox on Android is to develop effective privacy enhancing advertising solutions, where users know their information is protected, and developers and businesses have the tools to succeed on mobile.
Google acknowledges that “other platforms have taken a different approach to ads privacy, bluntly restricting existing technologies used by developers and advertisers” Google believes that those approaches are ineffective.
It is possible that Google is referring to Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature, which allows Apple users to diminish the amount of data apps can collect, lets them know what is shared and how it is used, and gives users the ability to turn all of that off.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple’s changes “have already upended the digital-ad industry and contributed to a wipeout of more than $300 billion from Meta’s market value.”
The Wall Street Journal also reported that Google’s new restrictions to curtail tracking across apps on Android smartphones is “putting restraints on an advertising industry that has covertly collected data across billions of mobile devices.” Google plans to keep supporting current smartphone identifiers for at least the next two years to give the ad industry notice before any changes.
According to The Wall Street Journal, one proposal would have users’ Android devices track their app usage and analyze it on their devices, rather than sending raw usage information to outside companies. The phones will then tell third parties the user’s interests so they can be targeted with relevant ads without the advertisers knowing that user’s smartphone identifier.
Personally, I think that Google should do better. Allowing third-parties to send Android users targeted ads based on the user’s interests certainly doesn’t sound like something a Privacy Sandbox should be doing.