Third-party cookies are now considered one of the scourges of the internet. As a reminder, these cookies allow internet users to be tracked between multiple websites in order to display relevant advertisements related to their interest centers.
In addition, many browsers already block this type of cookie. Currently, even Google, which generates revenue from personalized advertising experiences, intends to block third-party cookies in its Chrome browser.
However, to ensure that websites (including their own and those of their partners) can continue to make money from advertising, Google offers an alternative called Privacy Sandbox. Components of this alternative include a new technology called FLoC that enables websites to display personalized advertisements without the need for custom tracking.
Depending on your browsing history, FLoC technology will place you in a cohort or group of users. The processing takes place locally on your computer and the history is therefore not transmitted to the server. And it is the identifier of the cohort you are in that is used by websites that want to display ads that match your centers of interest.
“The cohort identification number is the only thing that is given when a site requests it. This differs from third-party cookies, which companies use to track you across different websites. FLoC works on your device without sharing your browsing history, ”says Google.
In early April, Google began testing this new functionality with a very small group of users in a few countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Zealand, the Philippines, and the United States.
DuckDuckGo and the EFF are already attacking!
At this time, we don’t know when Google might make its alternative to third-party cookies available on a larger scale. In any case, this new technology is already the subject of fierce opposition from data protection advocates.
Although this alternative respects more privacy when compared to third-party cookies, it does not convince everyone. For example, the DuckDuckGo search engine, which applies a zero tracking policy, has already changed its extension to block Google’s FLoCs.
And recently the EFF or Electronic Frontier Foundation has a website called “Am I FLoCed? This is how you can tell the internet user whether they are affected by Google’s tests. In March, this NGO also published a post explaining why Google’s initiative is a bad idea.
“FLoC is supposed to be a new way of getting your browser to do the profiling that third-party trackers used to do themselves. In this case, summarize your recent browsing activity in a behavior tag and then share it with websites.” and advertisers. The technology avoids the privacy risks of third-party cookies, but creates new ones in the process. It can also exacerbate many of the worst behavioral advertising privacy concerns, including discrimination and predatory targeting, ”the post said.
European internet users can still breathe at the moment. Indeed, no EU country is affected by the ongoing tests. Although FLoC technology has not yet been used, it is already heavily criticized.