Google Announces  ‘Privacy Sandbox’ for Ads on Android

Google unveiled Privacy Sandbox for Android this week, a new endeavor intended to result in more private advertising solutions for its mobile consumers. According to the Internet giant, the new solutions would limit the exchange of user data and will also prohibit the usage of cross-app identifiers, including advertising IDs.

Last year, Google announced a multiyear commitment to improve privacy and redesign ad tracking on Android phones, aligning the mobile platform with Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature for iOS. According to Google, the first beta for Android Privacy Sandbox will begin rolling out to a small handful of Android 13 devices, allowing users and developers to put the new technology to the test in the real world. Access to the test will be expanded “over time,” and devices chosen to join will receive an Android notice notifying them of their eligibility.

Google says it has been working with the Android ecosystem to develop its Privacy Sandbox, which is still in the works. In practice, Google must strike a compromise between safeguarding Android users’ privacy and offering adequate measurement capabilities to support a healthy app environment. According to the business, “hundreds of companies” have commented on Google’s design concepts thus far.

“Building on our web efforts, we’re developing solutions for digital advertising that limit user data sharing and don’t rely on cross-app identifiers,” said Anthony Chavez, vice president of product management for Google’s Privacy Sandbox initiative. “Over the past year, we’ve worked closely with the industry to gather feedback and begin testing these new technologies. Today, we’re entering the next phase of this initiative, rolling out the first Beta for the Privacy Sandbox on Android to eligible devices.”

What is an Android privacy sandbox?

The Android Privacy Sandbox is a collection of tools designed to establish a new standard for how advertisers and websites obtain information about consumers without jeopardizing user privacy. Android devices are currently granted a unique, user-resettable “Android Advertising ID,” which is used to track user behavior and create a personal advertising profile that app developers can exploit. The Privacy Sandbox seeks to replace the advertising ID with privacy-preserving APIs, which Google states will limit user data sharing with third parties and eliminate cross-app identifiers while still providing targeted ads.

“The Privacy Sandbox beta provides new APIs that are designed with privacy at the core, and don’t use identifiers that can track your activity across apps and websites,” said Anthony Chavez, Google’s vice president of Privacy Sandbox. “Apps that choose to participate in the beta can use these APIs to show you relevant ads and measure their effectiveness.”

Users who have been chosen to participate in the beta can control which of their specific interests ads can target by visiting the Privacy Sandbox section of their preferences. For example, if you’re seeing advertising for camping equipment and sleeping bags, Android may have assumed based on your downloaded apps and app activity that you’d be interested in the “Outdoors” topic, which is mentioned in this display. Users can opt out or back into beta participation at any time by blocking topics they do not want to be targeted for.

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