AdGuard Blog: Privacy Sandbox on Android and how it will affect you


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Apr 24, 2016
AdGuard always keeps a close eye on industry news that affects privacy issues. Google recently introduced the Privacy Sandbox which will largely determine the future of privacy of Android users. And we certainly need to comment on it. This article is a brief overview of the situation made by Andrey Meshkov, CTO and co-founder of AdGuard. Now we are continuing to explore the topic, and a large research article will be published soon. Follow our blog and social media so you don't miss its release.

Google has announced a new suite of technologies called Privacy Sandbox that should (at least theoretically) make Android devices better in terms of privacy. But at the same time, Google is making it clear that they'd like advertisers to keep as many options as possible — and this is a tough balance to strike. Have they managed to do it?

Privacy Sandbox includes several separate technologies. You can dive deep into the matter yourself, but I'll try to describe the key points about each of the new initiatives here...
In general, all these initiatives (excluding Topics) can be described as improving users' privacy in the context of the ad market. But with one very important condition — ONLY those mechanisms should be used.

As for Topics, it reflects the (completely understandable) desire to keep the ability to utilize information about users' interests for targeting purposes. But this technology further expands the scope of that information instead of reducing it.

But even the good ones still leave a bitter aftertaste: de facto Google will become the single entity to control which ads users see on their Android devices. It was partially true before, but only within Google's own advertising network. Now they are looking to directly influence all other ad networks too, and we know that monopolies rarely end up being good for the consumer. We kind of know what is going to be happening on our smartphones now, and there's no guarantee it will stay that way.

This is the trend that we've been seeing for a while now — advertising networks slowly but steadily moving into our devices. Thinking about buying a new phone? Be ready to get your hands on a highly specialized tool for showing ads instead.