Google's upcoming privacy changes won't match Apple's initiatives

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Google is set to announce new privacy initiatives during Google I/O, but it appears that the Android changes will stop short of Apple's App Tracking Transparency and other programs.

Google I/O is set to take place from May 18 to May 20, and is used by the search giant to announce new products and updates. A big element is in alterations to Android, with new privacy controls anticipated to be revealed.

The changes will apparently include making it easier for users to access settings menus to restrict the permissions of apps, such as access to a camera or its location, according to a source of The Information who has viewed the presentation in advance.

However, while the changes will potentially help Android users become more aware of their privacy, the measures won't necessarily be as effective as Apple's initiatives, such as App Tracking Transparency.

For App Tracking Transparency, Apple forced every app to ask its users for explicit permission to track activities of users on an iPhone or iPad for marketing purposes. According to two Google employees speaking to the report, Google is seemingly answering the call for increased privacy, but it is dragging its feet in doing so.

Google is said to be working on tightening restrictions on the kinds of data advertisers could track. However, the employees claim Google wants to continue allowing advertisers to target ads and to quantify their effectiveness, something Apple's ATT effectively prevents.

As Google performs extensive tracking of user behavior in Android devices, as well as obtaining data from its own apps and from its online advertising platform, it seems that Google may not be greatly affected by any of the supposed privacy tweaks. It's also possible that Google's ad services could stand to benefit from the restrictions, due to being able to provide similar data to what would be restricted.

None of the changes will be immediate, as the Google employees say that a balance has to be struck, while the rollout to smartphones could take several months to complete.

Despite a campaign of criticism before its implementation, Apple's ATT is seemingly a hit with users. Apple reportedly received "tremendous" feedback from users, while initial data on ATT claims only 4% of iOS users are allowing access to the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA).

On May 6, Google announced it was going to introduce a "safety section" to Google Play app listings, echoing Apple's own privacy nutrition labels.

Meanwhile, a study on May 4 claimed 60% of apps used by schools shared data with third parties, with the majority of data stemming from Android apps.

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