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Google Struggles to Match Apple on Smartphone Privacy Changes

Photo: Photo: Bloomberg

Pressured by Apple’s recent iPhone privacy initiative, Google is accelerating work to limit how app developers can track the 2.5 billion people who use phones powered by its Android software. The efforts are still in flux and have been delayed by internal concerns that such moves will diminish the $130 billion a year spent on U.S. mobile ads, an industry dominated by Google, said people who are involved with the work.

Google will take a baby step regarding phone privacy this week during its annual developer conference. There it plans to preview coming privacy controls that will make it easier for smartphone users to reach a settings screen where they can restrict apps’ abilities to access the phone’s camera, location and other permissions, according to a person who has seen the planned presentation.

Those changes won’t prevent advertisers from building profiles of Android users based on all the other ways they use apps across their smartphones to do things like read, shop, play games and communicate with friends.

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