What is Google Floc? And How Does It Affect Your Privacy?

Like on Google change the way you follow us around the web, and because of the widespread use of its Chrome browser, the move could have significant security and privacy implications – but the idea is less acceptable to non -Google companies.

The technology in question is FLoC, or Federated Learning of Cohorts, to give it a fuller and more confusing name. It aims to give advertisers a way to target ads without revealing the details of individual users, and does so by grouping people with similar interests: Football fans , truck drivers, retired commuters, or whatever it is.

“We started with the idea that groups of people with common interests could replace the individual identifiers,” writes Chetna Bindra on Google. “This method effectively hides individuals ‘in the crowd’ and uses device processing to protect a person’s web history in the browser.”

These groups (or “cohorts”) are created by algorithms (that’s “federated learning” a bit), and you’ll be placed in a different one each week-advertisers can only see its ID. Any cohorts that are very small can be grouped until they have at least a thousand users, making it more difficult to identify individual users.

FLoC is based on the idea of ​​a Privacy Sandbox, a Google -led initiative for websites to request specific chunks of information about users without violating the mark. In addition to FLoC, the Privacy Sandbox also includes other technologies: For preventing ad fraud, for helping website creators analyze their incoming traffic, for measuring advertising effectiveness, and more pa.

The FLoC code at the center of the storm.

Screenshot: David Nield via Google Chrome

Google wants to replace FLoC with the usual way people track people on the internet: Cookies. This little piece of text and code is stored on your computer or phone through your browser, and helps websites know if you’ve visited before, what your site likes, where in the world you’re based, and many more. They can be helpful for both websites and their visitors, but they are also used by most advertisers and data brokers to form patterns in our browsing history.

According to Google points, cookie tracking has become even more invasive. Embedded, remote trackers known as third-party cookies keep tabs on users as they navigate multiple websites, while advertisers also use an invasive technique called fingerprinting. to find out who you are even with anti-tracking measures enabled (by your use of fonts, or IDs on your computer, your connected Bluetooth devices or other means).

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