Did Google just release the Android ATT equivalent?

This week, on July 28th, Google very quietly updated its Google Play developer guidelines with a new policy related to data collection: developers will not only be required to disclose the data they collect from devices, but also to expose a consent prompt for collecting that data. From the new guidelines:

While the language used here is vague, what this requirement proposes sounds very similar to Apple’s ATT privacy policy, which requires users to consent to being “tracked” before their IDFA can be accessed and any other identifiers (including email address) can be used for ad targeting and measurement. Google generally wasn’t expected to replicate ATT on Android: I explained my reasoning for that in this article. If Google replicates ATT on Android, the entire mobile ecosystem will be wracked with the pain of a fundamental change to advertising measurement and targeting across both platforms at once.

Google’s updated documentation stipulates that developers benefit from a 30-day grace period before they are expected to adhere to these new restrictions. This stands in stark contrast to ATT, the rollout of which was delayed. These new data usage — and consent — restrictions will therefore be enforced from early September, given the timing.

Is Google following in Apple’s footsteps with requiring consent before device-specific data can be collected and used for advertising targeting and measurement? Currently, the very nebulous text of Google’s developer documentation doesn’t provide enough guidance to determine that. But what Google has published sounds very similar to ATT, and it might impact the mobile ecosystem with the same severity.

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