According to a report by Bloomberg, Google is working on its own alternative to Apple’s anti-tracking features, which will be introduced with an update to iOS 14. The company is in the early stages of internal discussions on how to limit data collection and cross-tracking applications in its operating system, in an effort to balance its interests as an advertising company with those of users who demand more privacy.
Bloomberg believes that Google’s decision will not be as strict as Apple’s. In the next update for iOS 14.5, users will see a pop-up window when an application wants to use Apple’s Ad ID for targeted advertising, and applications will be able to prevent them from receiving data. While Google has already decided to scrap Apple’s cross-application tracking technology on iOS, Facebook is actively opposing this change, saying it will hurt small businesses. Better privacy protection is an issue that divides the industry, and it remains to be seen how far Google can go in its operating system without going to antitrust authorities.
If you feel that Google is pushing privacy, it’s partly because it is. Google is working on an alternative to third-party cookies for Chrome called the “Privacy Sandbox” (which conveniently means more power in the ad market). It is based on Federated Learning Technology (FLoC), a self-learning method based on algorithm learning on a network of decentralized devices that allows Google and other advertisers to target interest groups rather than individual users. In the proposed API, user data will no longer leave the browser.
It is still unclear how Google will address the issue of privacy on Android, but we would not be surprised if it accepts a similar federated approach to learning.