By Nathalie Voit

Google parent company Alphabet unveiled multi-year initiative “Privacy Sandbox” on Android, a new mobile app solutions system to improve user privacy and limit advertiser sharing of user data across Android smartphones.

Privacy Sandbox on Android will introduce a slew of private advertising solutions for Android users, including limits on covert tracking and collection of user data in addition to privacy-safe proposals like “Attribution Reporting,” a new way to measure digital ad effectiveness for marketers that doesn’t rely on user-level tracking mechanisms like Advertising ID, Google said in an announcement.

The new system will reduce cross-site and cross-app tracking and limit sharing of personal data with third parties. Privacy Sandbox on Android will also operate without cross-app identifiers, Google said.

The new technologies arrive amid strong public demand for digital privacy. In April of last year, Google rival Apple launched a massive crackdown on the digital ad industry, introducing changes to its privacy policy that greatly limited advertisers’ ability to “fingerprint” iPhone users, like user consent for in-app tracking and IP blocking for web trackers.

“IP blocking for trackers is a monumental development that is likely the nail in the coffin for user-centric profiling. Without an IP address to latch onto, tracking companies simply won’t be able to uniquely identify users in a way that is commercially reliable,” said digital-marketing strategist and consultant Eric Seufert regarding Apple’s new privacy policy, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The news prompted search giant Google to issue similar privacy-enhancing changes, albeit in a less “industry-damaging” way.

“We don’t think there should be a forced choice between privacy and developers building their business,” said Anthony Chavez, vice president, product management for Android security and privacy. “We believe that developers and businesses should be able to make money from their sites and apps, as well as reach customers with relevant ads…in a privacy-preserving way.”

The new privacy protections are set to go into effect in about two years. Until then, Google said it would retain its current ads platform, including its device identifiers.