Compared with the strongest update function of iOS 14.5, how is the Android system doing?

Before talking about how iOS and Android systems deal with "personal data", that is, data privacy, let's take a look at a data and a trend.

▲ Starting from iOS 14, the protection of "privacy" has become a major enhancement. Picture from: YouTube

Apple’s iOS 14.5 launched at the end of April has a stricter App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature , which allows users to turn off ad tracking, thereby achieving a certain degree of personal privacy data protection.

Flurry, an American analytics company, tracked the number of iPhone users that allowed tracking and "required not to track" after the iOS 14.5 push. According to a sample analysis of 2.5 million daily mobile active users, only about 4% of users in the United States allow apps to obtain IDFA ( Advertising identifier) ​​and allow tracking.

▲ Flurry's statistics on the proportion of ad tracking rejected in the United States. Picture from: Flurry

When this scope is extended to the world, this proportion has risen to 12% in a sample of 5.3 million users, but 88% of users still disable App tracking, which is still overwhelming.

In addition to the convenience brought about by the development of the Internet, we are also paying more and more attention to the problem of the abuse of private data. Previously, these private data were shared with some large companies in the "default state", and they would profit from the collected data, and we could only "hand in hand".

The emergence of iOS 14.5 ATT gave a privacy data switch, and also gave users an initiative on privacy issues. Close to 90% of users who choose not to track can be regarded as a counterattack to the long-term squeeze of private data by large companies.

Google: My Android followed

While Flurry announced this data, Google also stated in the developer's Blog that it will follow the ATT function of iOS 14.5 and introduce the "Privacy Tag" function for the Android system, but this function will be officially launched as soon as the second in 2022. Quarter.

▲ The Android privacy enhancement timeline announced by Google. Picture from: Android Developers Blog

Similar to Apple iOS 14.5, Google intends to launch a "privacy safe zone" on the Play Store to help users understand what personal data the app collects, whether it is encrypted, whether it will violate privacy, and ask developers to explain where the data is collected Item functions, etc., to further increase transparency. As for those apps that don’t follow Google’s "Privacy" policy, Google will ask developers to resolve them, and it is possible that they may be taken off the shelf directly without changing the rules.

Google’s new policy for privacy applications will be launched for testing in the third quarter of this year. The official launch time is expected to be in the second quarter of 2022. Google has left developers about a year to prepare.

In fact, as far as privacy is concerned, Google has already started on Android 10. One is to restrict non-system applications from accessing the user's unchangeable ID, including IMEI and serial number. The WiFi Mac address is randomly generated by default and is no longer fixed, preventing privacy from being tracked.

Both iOS and Android in the future are taking the lead in improving the problem of "private data" abuse, which is good for users, but it may be a "fatal blow" for companies whose main business is accurate digital advertising.

MIUI, Flyme, ColorOS have already begun to pay attention to “privacy''

In fact, it is not only Apple and Google. In recent years, domestic manufacturers have also begun to attach importance to "privacy protection", and "privacy" has gradually become an indispensable feature of domestic customized systems.

As the light of customized systems, Xiaomi emphasized several efforts to protect "privacy" in MIUI 12 last April. There are "flares" and "blocking nets" for App authority management and abuse, and "privacy masks" for the entire system level.

The "Privacy Mask" is actually a virtual ID, or OAID (Anonymous Device Identifier) ​​to be accurate. In the Internet, OAID is used to replace the previous IMEI code to prevent advertisers from binding our private data to the device, so that we can accurately label us and push advertisements more accurately.

The "small and beautiful" Flyme 9 also emphasized new measures to protect "privacy" at the press conference. It is also divided into two parts: App-oriented and the entire system level.

The three aspects of "Guardian Scepter", "All-Seeing Hawkeye", and "Invisible Boots" are for individual apps, and they are more strictly authorized and monitored. "Private cloak" has some system-level meaning. It can grant the application the permission to read blank information, and has corresponding restrictions on the clipboard, storage, gallery, files, etc.

▲ From left to right: MIUI 12.5's virtual identity, Flyme 9 and ColorOS's restricted advertising tracking switch.

While other domestic customized systems, such as ColorOS, OriginOS, EMUI, etc., although they did not spend time at the press conference to emphasize the "privacy" function, in practice, they have relatively complete authorization and monitoring of App permissions System, and also involves the "advertising tracking" and "device identifier" aspects.

Even in the hydrogen OS, which is known for its simplicity, there is a resetable advertising ID switch, and users can "opt out of the advertising personalization function", and this function is actually Google balancing advertising personalization and user privacy data.

▲ Mobile phones with pre-installed Google Play services can stop and reset the advertising ID in the settings. Image from: Google

On the help page of the Play Management Center, Google also emphasizes that advertising service providers can only track this resettable advertising ID, and do not have permission to access the device’s permanent and unique identifier (ie, IMEI code, etc.). If the rules are violated, advertising The merchant will receive an "email warning".

From this point of view, it seems that both domestic Android custom systems and native Android have made a lot of efforts and authorization restrictions for "privacy".

▲ From left to right, App Store, Xiaomi Store, and Google Play, although all have marked access to permissions, but the App Store is clear at a glance, and the others are "too long to see."

However, whether it is Android, MIUI, or Flyme, in terms of restricting ad tracking setting options, tracking is permitted by default, and the design of the menu is more complicated. It is difficult for ordinary users to discover and choose whether to allow or block them. In addition, when the App tried to track and obtain the device ID, many did not give a clear pop-up prompt, and at these two points, the iOS 14.5 experience is better.

And a series of issues such as menu design and active pop-up reminders are likely to be improved along with the "privacy label" function of the Android system in the future. As for MIUI and Flyme, I believe there will be corresponding actions this year.

"Limiting Ad Tracking" is just the beginning of the "Privacy War"

MIUI 12’s “privacy mask” and iOS 14.5’s app advertising tracking transparency feature prevents apps and digital advertising providers from connecting the data generated by our activities with our devices, but it does not completely prevent the acquisition of “private data” And collect.

This policy reduces the "personalization" of advertisements, rather than the number of advertisements. In other words, after turning off the tracking function, you may still receive advertisements, but the previous "precision strikes" have become "widespread nets." The Google advertising ID and Apple’s IDFA tracked by digital advertisers are actually just the "tip of the iceberg" for portraying user portraits.

In the real world, most of the Internet services we obtain, such as personalized playlists, short video recommendations, e-commerce recommendations, etc., have "personalized recommendations". The "play records" and "purchase records" they collect "", "Purchase Address", and it is even possible to record the associated privacy data such as the WiFi SSID used, and then connect it with our registration ID and phone number to easily complete the portrayal of users in a certain field.

iOS 14.5 or MIUI 12 can prevent digital advertisers from tracking our ID, but it is difficult to involve the collection of personal data within the App to make personalized content recommendations. Whether it is a closed ecology such as iOS or an open ecology of Android, it seems a little bit incomprehensible.

▲ Facebook criticizes Apple's "monopoly" ecological advertising services. Image from: cnet

In addition, Apple and Google are so restricting the collection of data by digital advertisers and taking the lead in emphasizing "privacy", but they also have a personalized advertising push business, and there are many voices of doubt. After the ATT function of iOS 14.5 is launched, there are Analysts believe that this move will benefit Apple's own advertising business, and this is the general direction that Facebook has been attacking Apple.

▲ Facebook and Instagram pop-up windows begging users to grant permission.

However, from now on, the ATT function of iOS 14.5 does protect some of our "private data", and Facebook also compromised and "begged" users to grant tracking permissions. He even hinted that the possibility of charging fees will not be ruled out in the future, and there is a taste of "no silver here."

Apple and Google can only ecologically restrict apps from collecting and obtaining user privacy data. Apple has a stronger "right to speak" to the ecology and is easier to implement, while Google's Android requires many manufacturers to improve it together. As for the personal data collection inside the App, user portrait portrayal, it is difficult to supervise.

For the monitoring and supervision of personal data in a broad sense, third-party authorities still need to intervene. When necessary, laws and regulations should be set to regulate the collection and use of user information and data by large companies that provide services. Last year, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology began to launch a special rectification work for apps infringing users' rights and interests, and "named and criticized" some violating apps and ordered them to rectify.

As for the protection and prevention of abuse of user data, as well as more severe methods to punish problematic apps and companies, I believe it will be realized in the near future.

▲ Picture from: Pexels

There may be a long way to go for the protection of "private data" and the definition of ownership. As Cook said, "Privacy is one of the most important issues of this century". How to determine the infringement and abuse of apps and digital companies "Data" will always accompany the development of the Internet, and it will be a problem to be solved.

"Personal privacy data" covers a wide range. It is difficult to cover everything with just one Apple and one Google. Although they have gradually tightened their permissions on the device side and the ecological side to achieve "transparency," it is not for iOS, Android, and even The Internet as a whole is far from enough. More service-providing companies need to be involved to pay attention to, value, and protect the privacy and security of "personal data" together. In addition, some laws and regulations are needed to restrict and set the bottom line.

Protecting personal privacy in the Internet age is not easy, but fortunately, we are already on the way.

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