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Google has expanded its strategy to limit data tracking on its Chrome browser to include apps on its Android-based smartphones.

Its Privacy Sandbox project tries to limit the amount of data that advertisers can collect from users. Rival Before tracking users, Apple now requires app developers to obtain their permission. The announcement will come as a shock to companies like Meta, which rely on their code being embedded in apps to track customer behavior. Apple’s adjustments, according to Meta, will cost the company $10 billion (£7.3 billion) this year. Around 85 percent of smartphone users worldwide utilize Google Android operating system.

Third-party cookies, which target advertisements based on people’s surfing history, will be phased out of Google’s Chrome browser by 2023. Google announced in a blog post that it is now expanding its Privacy Sandbox to Android apps and is working on methods to minimize data sharing and “run without cross app identifiers, including advertising ID.” Apps collect information using these identifiers, which are linked to cellphones. Google said it will keep them in place for at least two years while it works on a new approach “with the industry.”

“We’re also looking on technologies that lessen the risk of covert data collecting, such as safer ways for apps to integrate with advertising SDKs,” it continued. The IT behemoth did not specify how it intends to accomplish this.

In April of last year, Apple ruled that app developers must explicitly seek consumers for permission to use IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers). According to data from advertising firm Flurry Analytics, which was disclosed by Apple, US customers choose to opt out of monitoring 96 percent of the time. Google’s blog made no mention of Apple, instead referring to “other platforms” that “have taken a different approach to advertisements privacy, openly prohibiting existing technology used by developers and advertisers,” according to the site.

“We feel that such techniques can be ineffectual unless a privacy-preserving alternative path is initially provided,” it added. Unlike Apple, Google is reliant on advertising money. Google’s efforts to provide third-party cookie replacements for its Chrome browser haven’t gone altogether smoothly.

Topics, its replacement, was recently launched and intends to group users into topic clusters selected from over 350 categories such as fitness or tourism. When someone visits a website, Topics will display three of their prior three weeks’ interests to the site and its advertising partners. “We will continue to follow this closely and engage with Google on the nature and depth of its proposals,” the Competitions Market Authority stated of Google’s switch to more privacy-focused systems and plans to expand them to Android apps.

According to a survey commissioned by Apple last year, the average app has at least six third-party trackers that exist exclusively to collect and distribute online data. According to research firm Cracked Lab, any one data broker might have data on up to 700 million consumers. Regulators like the Information Commissioner’s Office in the United Kingdom are looking into the advertising ecosystem, particularly the method ads are sold – known as real-time bidding – which displays billions of online ads on web sites and applications every day.

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