What is FLoC?

Apr 25, 2021

In the beginning this year google announced something called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) this is basically new interest-based advertising method. So they said google wants to kill third-party tracking cookies that used for the ads in chrome. since the google is one of biggest ad company they just do not kill third party cookie without any other option. So basically, that other option they come up with is FLoC.

what is FLoC first ?

FLoC is a method for browsers to enable interest based advertising. It works by gathering users data about user’s browsing history, habits and according to those information dividing people in to different cohorts. and users browsing data will be kept locally but the browser will expose the cohort ids. Also google said that for a cohorts there will be more than a thousand users, so websites won’t be able to identify users individually. Also, every week chrome will generate a new FLoC Id based on your past browsing history and tag you with a kind of similar cohorts. So basically, Flock seems like a good concept right? but there is actually more to this.

Building a privacy-first future for web advertising
Learn about the latest progress with the Privacy Sandbox initiative.

Why a company like google try to remove third party cookies?

Google is like one of the biggest market leaders in the online adds and has one of the largest ad network on the internet.  Also the biggest revenue for google is google advertisements

Hers some data about google revenue I took this information from the bellow link.

https://www.statista.com/statistics/267606/quarterly-revenue-of-google/

Google: quarterly revenue as 2008-2020
Published by Joseph Johnson, Feb 8, 2021
In the fourth quarter of 2020, Google's revenue amounted to 56.7 billion U.S. dollars, up from around 46 billion U.S. dollars in the preceding quarter. Google's main revenue source is advertising through Google sites and its network.
Google advertising
In 2020, Google accounted for the majority of parent company Alphabet's revenues with 123.8 billion U.S. dollars in Google website ad revenues alone. The majority of Google’s revenue comes from advertising through Google owned and operated properties such as Google Search, Google Maps and more.
Other sources of revenue
Revenues generated from Google’s network member’ websites include revenue from ads served through advertising programs such as AdSense for AdSearch for example. Other revenues include digital content products and apps sold through Google’s Play digital content distribution platform, as well as hardware including Chromecast devices and smartphones. Digital content platform Google Play is an increasingly important contributor to Google’s bottom line, especially as smartphone sales and Google’s Android platform’s global market shareincrease. Geographically, the biggest single country share of Google’s revenue comes from the United States, and 30 percent of revenues are generated from the EMEA region.

So since in the current society when the other browsers are putting an unrelenting fight to make the third-party cookies irrelevant browsers like Firefox , brave , safari and even chromium. But the chrome which has more than 69 percent market share on desktop and also 40 percent market share on mobile according to startcounter data, like if this large of people using chrome and if google didn’t block third party cookies most of the users might change their browsers. So this will be a big problem for chrome. So that’s one of the biggest reason google decide to replace the third party cookies

Also if you are more interested about reading about this topic I found a great article and you can read it too

Google is moving to eliminate third-party cookies from its popular Chrome browser in two years, as increasing privacy regulation and steep competition from rivals such as Apple Safari continue to intensify. | Ad Age
Google is moving to eliminate third-party cookies from its popular Chrome browser in two years, as increasing privacy regulation and steep competition from rivals such as Apple Safari continue to intensify.

what are the issues with FLoC ?

users have to select between “old tracking and new tracking” according to Bennett Cyphers of EFF. If you are serious about your online privacy you should not think about old vs new . Instead, your focus should primarily be on abolishing the whole surveillance tech. Critics have repeatedly said that allowing third-party cookies was the web’s biggest mistake. And now, letting it run under a different set of protocols is as harmful as the old standard.

Users have to select between “old tracking and new tracking” according to  Bennett Cyphers of EFF. If you are serious about your online privacy you  should not think about old vs new . Instead, your focus should primarily be  on abolishing the whole surveillance tech. Critics have repeatedly said that  allowing third-party cookies was the web’s biggest mistake. And now,  letting it run under a different set of protocols is as harmful as the old  standard.
·FLoC is not a replacement for third party cookies. Because it only works in  chrome and cross browses cross browser has vary narrow focus.
FLoC protects privacy but except from google.
FLoC is also unlikely to improve.
So here im not going too deep with the issues with the FLoC . But you can find lot of resources they talk about the issues deeply.

When if FLoC is out for users ?

From march 2021. Google started running trial with floc among the random selected users in some selected regions as Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, and the United States. They say its limited to only 0.5% of users.

Meanwhile, other privacy-focused browsers like DuckDuckGo, Vivaldi, and Brave have announced that they will block Google’s FLoC tracking system on their Chromium builds. Firefox and Safari are not affected by FLoC as they are not built on Chromium. So, Apple users who browse the internet via Safari are safe from FLoC .

https://www.theverge.com/2021/4/16/22387492/google-floc-ad-tech-privacy-browsers-brave-vivaldi-edge-mozilla-chrome-safari

But edge has not officially confirmed that they are going to implement floc or not. Also, the word press has announced that it will also block automatically block googles floc on their websites from the upcoming WordPress version 5.8

WordPress Proposes Blocking Google’s FLoC
Google’s FLoC came under more pressure as WordPress discussed a proposal to block it as a security threat

but incase if you are using chrome as your regular browser you can go to am I flocked and make sure that you are not.

Am I FLoCed?
This page will check whether Google Chrome’s experimental new ad-targeting technology is enabled in your browser.

how to block FLoC from google chrome ?

well to block FLoC duck duck go has made a extension and by using that you can block FLoC if you are affected the link for the extension is below

DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials
Simple and seamless privacy protection for Chrome.

Thanks for reading this :) hope you something about FLoC and how to be secured online.  

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