Internet users have been racking up privacy wins thanks to seismic changes in the digital ad industry. This week, Apple rolled out an update to its ID for Advertisers (IDFA) that’s expected to sharply curtail ad tracking on iOS devices. Meanwhile, Google Chrome is preparing to deliver a death blow to third-party cookies, which help advertisers track people who browse the web on laptops and desktop computers.
Both changes promise to give consumers more control over which companies collect their data for advertising purposes. Yet neither one of them will protect the privacy of the hundreds of millions of people who access the web via Android smartphones, which don’t rely on cookies or IDFA to track their users’ activity for advertising purposes. The fate of their privacy rests on an impending decision from Google: whether or not to follow in Apple’s footsteps and impose privacy restrictions on the Google Advertising ID (GAID) that allows advertisers to track people’s activity on Android devices.
Much of the web-browsing world relies on Android
Roughly 40% of all internet traffic comes from Android devices. That means Google’s GAID decision will impact nearly half the web-browsing world, but that impact will not be evenly distributed across the globe.
In North America, the world’s largest ad market, only about a fifth of all web traffic comes from Android devices. The remaining 80% of traffic comes from desktop