Google Chrome has a new way to track you in a way called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC). The company claims that it’s a better way to provide advertisers (read the revenue team) with what they want and leave privacy similarities to their users. However, privacy advocates have since opposed automatically imposing FLoC exams, especially on randomized user choices. Especially surprising is that Google started the trial without explicitly disclosing the same thing. In addition, a FLoC trial for 0.5% of all Chrome users is active with standard cookie tracking.
Why Google FLoC is a threat to you
To put it simply, FLoC claims that it does not allow websites on the Internet to track users by inserting scripts that track user behavior on the Internet. That sounds great, but things aren’t particularly that simple. FLoC basically gives Google more control over how user activity is tracked under its own umbrella, but it doesn’t offer the benefits users want to believe. Basically, FLoC reads browsing activity and history, checks in to all the sites you visit, and classifies them into compartments or “cohorts”.
These cohorts “anonymize” user identities, as Google claims in the FLoC white paper, but nevertheless group activities alongside other similar activities. I will do it already. Google claims that FLoC also respects “sensitive” cohorts by not sharing that information with advertisers, such as users searching for medical conditions or specific aspects of the race. However, this information is also collected by Google as confidential information with its own index, and there is no function left for the user to guess confidential information and non-confidential information. Organizations like the EFF have raised this in particular, defining how FLoC is clearly invasive and imbalanced.
How to know and what can be done
To see if Google Chrome has silently activated FLoC in your account, go to EFF’s FLoC tracking site. The site clearly shows if the company has activated a new tracking step. Google claims to enable good privacy sandbox controls built directly into Chrome in the future, but those controls aren’t yet available in beta builds of Chrome.
In some cases, users can use a privacy-centric web browser such as Mozilla Firefox to prevent Chrome from imposing on you. Users can also install the FLoC browser plugin for the privacy-first search engine DuckDuckGo. This plugin automatically detects Google’s behavior tracking and prevents you from tracking your activity on the internet. Users are also advised to prevent Google from tracking third-party cookies. The former is ideal for users who have no problems with another browser, while the latter is ideal for users who want to use Chrome but don’t want Google to impose FLoC.
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How to check if you are being tracked and opt out
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