GOOGLSundar Pichai, senior vice president of Android, Chrome and Apps for Google Inc., speaks during the Google I/O Annual Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, June 25, 2014.David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Google is tightening its privacy practices that could make it harder for companies to track users on Android phones and tablets.
Google already allows Android users to opt-out of personalized ads. But even if users do that, software developers may still access the user’s Advertising ID, a unique string of characters that identifies the user’s device. Firms can use this Advertising ID for purposes such as allowing developers to measure app usage or letting advertisers detect and prevent invalid traffic.
Following the change, if a user has opted out of personalized ads, the Advertising ID will not be available — requests for it will return only a string of zeros.
The company said in a policy update that its rollout will affect apps running on Android 12 devices starting in late 2021 and will expand to apps running on devices that support Google Play in early 2022. It said it will “provide an alternate solution to support essential use cases such as analytics and