Google has said it will bring its Privacy Sandbox to Android over the next few years as part of plans to bolster privacy features for its users.

It follows similar moves by Apple last year with the rollout of iOS 14.5 that allowed users to block apps on their device from tracking them across the web.

The plan will limit sharing of user data with third parties and operate without cross-app identifiers, including advertising ID. They will also look at ways to limit “covert data collection” by apps and services.

The changes will initially be optional for developers to take advantage of so they have time to adjust to the new model.

Google had already tried a similar initiative with its Chrome browser with plans to block third party cookies from next year.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) expressed concern that the move could distort the market and wanted Google to ensure that the proposals will not favour its in-house advertising platform over other firms.

Last week, the CMA said it had received a commitment from the search giant to allow it to be involved in the development and testing of the new system and that it would not remove third-party cookies until it is satisfied that its competition concerns have been addressed.

The regulator has not yet commented on the new proposals for Android however.

Unlike Apple, Google’s business model relies heavily on advertising revenue and tracking users across the web

“We realise that other platforms have taken a different approach to ads privacy, bluntly restricting existing technologies used by developers and advertisers,” Google said in a blog post.

“We believe that — without first providing a privacy-preserving alternative path — such approaches can be ineffective and lead to worse outcomes for user privacy and developer businesses.

“We plan to support existing ads platform features for at least two years, and we intend to provide substantial notice ahead of any future changes.”

Google added that it was committed to working with regulators on its Privacy Sandbox.

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