Google will restrict the use of Android Advertising ID to users who have accepted it

Sundar Pichai, Senior Vice President of Android, Chrome and Applications at Google Inc., speaks at the Google I / O Annual Developer Conference in San Francisco, California, USA, on Wednesday June 25, 2014.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | fake images

Google is tightening its privacy practices that could make it difficult for companies to track users on Android phones and tablets.

Google already allows Android users to opt out of receiving personalized ads. But even if users do that, software developers can still access the user’s Advertising ID, a unique string of characters that identifies the user’s device. Businesses can use this advertising ID for purposes such as allowing developers to measure application usage or allowing advertisers to detect and prevent invalid traffic.

After the change, if a user has opted out of receiving personalized ads, the advertising ID will not be available; requests for this will only return a string of zeros.

The company said in a policy update that its implementation will affect apps that run on Android 12 devices starting in late 2021 and that it will expand to apps that run on devices that support Google Play in early 2022. It said that “Will provide an alternative solution to support essential use cases such as fraud prevention and analysis” in July.

With regulators taking a closer look at user privacy and consumers increasingly concerned about the use of their personal data, the tech giants are trying to get ahead by making changes in the name of privacy. Google said in early 2020 that it would stop supporting third-party cookies in its Chrome browser in two years.

But since advertising accounts for roughly 80% of Google’s revenue, you also need to keep advertisers happy by offering alternative ways to place ads in front of the users they want to reach and track their effectiveness. The company has been the market leader in online advertising for more than a decade, and is expected to gain a nearly 29% share of digital advertising spending globally by 2021, according to eMarketer.

Google’s changes will follow other changes that Apple recently made for iOS devices, but they are not as dramatic. Apple’s changes make it easier for iPhone and iPad users to opt for the type of tracking that helps advertisers target ads or measure whether ads worked, by placing a message in front of them every time they open a new app. Facebook, among others, strongly opposed the changes, saying that users would see less relevant ads and that small businesses would suffer as targeted advertising became more difficult.

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