Following on the heels of Apple’s new App Tracking Transparency feature, Google will soon let Android users opt out of ad tracking. Doing so prevents apps from seeing a users’ unique advertising ID, thereby limiting businesses’ ability to collect private data and sell targeted ads.
First reported by Bloomberg, Google quietly announced the change in a Support page for app developers. A notice at the top of the support page states that Google will implement its anti-tracking tools on select devices in late 2021, with expanded support for all Android devices running Google Play in early 2022 (your Android OS version shouldn’t matter).
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.
But unlike Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature, which lets you control tracking on an app-by-app basis, Google’s anti-tracking tool completely disables tracking for every app on your device. Unfortunately, the feature will be tucked away in the Android Settings, so users must go out of their way to use it.
It’s surprising to see Google implement an anti-tracking feature, given the company’s reliance on personalized advertising. Several companies have voiced concerns that anti-tracking tools will hurt their advertising business, and Facebook threw a temper tantrum after Apple debuted App Tracking Transparency earlier this year.
While we wait for Google to roll out its anti-tracking tool, you can turn off Android ad personalization to limit what advertisements you see in some apps. You can also reset your advertising ID to make yourself slightly more anonymous than usual.