Last year, Apple made a similar change to its operating system intended to protect privacy, and it proved disruptive for users and businesses. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License picture

February 16 (UPI) — Tech giant Google announced on Wednesday that it is launching a multi-year project to protect the privacy of Android smartphone users and work on advertising methods that rely less on users’ private data.

Google said the initiative is called Privacy Sandbox and it plans to develop the project over several years.

The goal of the move, the company said, is to develop “effective and privacy-enhancing advertising solutions” that let users know their personal information is protected.

“Mobile apps are an integral part of our daily lives. Currently, more than 90% of apps on Google Play are free, providing access to valuable content and services to billions of users. Digital advertising plays a key role in making this possible,” Anthony Chavez, vice president of product management and Android security at Google, said in a blog post.

“But in order to ensure a healthy app ecosystem – benefiting users, developers and businesses – the industry must continue to evolve how digital advertising works to improve user privacy.”

Google said it was working with regulators and wanted to increase transparency – to ensure that the Privacy Sandbox does not give preferential treatment to Google’s advertising products or sites.

“Specifically, these solutions will limit the sharing of user data with third parties,” Chavez added. “We are also exploring technologies that reduce the potential for secret data collection.”

Last year, Apple made a similar decision to protect the privacy of users of its iOS system, which has proven disruptive for users and businesses.

At the time, Apple said the change would improve privacy by limiting tracking. Facebook said this month that Apple’s decision would have a serious impact and cost it $10 billion in lost ad revenue.