Thank Q, Next

EFF

In its next release, Android plans to up its privacy game. But the operating system still caters to ad trackers at its users’ expense.

The newest release of Android, dubbed “Q,” is currently in late-stage beta testing and slated for a full release this summer. After a year defined by new privacy protections around the world and major privacy failures by Big Tech, this year, Google is trying to convince users that it is serious about “protecting their information.” The word “privacy” was mentioned 22 times during the 2019 Google I/O keynote. Keeping up that trend, Google has made—and marketed—a number of privacy-positive changes to Android for version Q.

Many of the changes in Q are significant improvements for user privacy, from giving users more granular control over location data to randomizing MAC addresses when connecting to WiFi networks by default. However, in at least one area, Q’s improvements are undermined by Android’s continued support of a feature that allows third-party advertisers, including Google itself, to track users across apps. Furthermore, Android still doesn’t let users control their apps’ access to the Internet, a basic permission that would address a wide range of privacy concerns.

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