For a long time, third-party cookies have been a topic to make some headlines in media. Third-party cookies raise questions about web privacy which is why people are disabling it. Safari and Chrome have already blocked third-party cookies. Google is the latest one to join them. Google has stated that by 2022, soon they are going to launch Google FloC and Chrome will no longer allow websites to use third-party cookies.
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Considering the huge market share of Chrome, this is got to be a big deal to them. Google wouldn’t want a limit on the web ad industry. Third-party cookies were being used to target the online ads to users based on their web activities. So, blocking them would make it really difficult for advertisers to track your web activities and show you targeted ads.
As we all know, Google is the biggest brand in online ads, which makes all its money. So, Google was working on something to replace third-party cookies. That’s where the term “FLoC” jumps in!
Google FLoC: A Federated Learning of Cohorts
You might be asking now what is FLoC? What does it do? and How it replaces third-party cookies? We have answers for you. Let’s dive in!
Google FLoC aims at replacing the anti-privacy third-party cookies. So, what it actually does – it is a web technology that will be used for browsers to enable interest-based advertising. It works as gathering data about a user’s browsing activity and then clustering groups of similar interest users into cohorts using Federated Learning (An algorithm). FLoC actually scans the recent browsing history which is available on your device.
So, how it really protects your privacy? It protects your privacy much like how Apple does by creating a group of similar interest people and targeting ads based on that. Google says FLoC will allow advertisers to show you a relevant ad without knowing your actual identity. You will belong to a large group of users who share a similar interest that potentially hides your identity as an individual from the advertising companies.
How FloC Will Work?
FloC will only scan your browsing history locally on your browser. Your browsing history won’t be shared with anyone. You are just a number like user345 (whatever number) belongs to cohort4529 (whatever number) and then that cohort4529 will be passed to the interested advertiser who requests it to show you a potential targeted ad. And the ad will be shown to you if cohort4529’s interest matches the type of that targeted ad.
So, it sounds reasonably private compared to what third-party cookies did in the past. Let’s take a closer look at how private it would be. Google says a new cohort won’t be created unless there are thousands of users that share a particular interest.
There is a shaky part of this technology as well. If you come across a website to search for something and you belonged to a particular cohort. Then the website which you just visited requests the data of the cohort from your browser using FLoC you wouldn’t know it when it requested that.
Any website can request that data and you wouldn’t know how many cohorts you belong to. And this isn’t limited to just users but it has some insecurity to the ad industries as well. Whether FLoC will help them in growing their ongoing business or slow it down. They don’t know it. FLoC isn’t very understood yet and it has its uncertainties.
FloC On Sensitive Topics
When it comes to sensitive topics, you might be thinking FLoC is gonna put you into a cohort of such topics and show you ads relevant to that on the web. Google has already put some thoughts into it. FLoC wouldn’t create any cohorts on any sensitive topics so you wouldn’t need to worry about that.
FLoC is already been used on a trial which is named “Origin trial” to show how FLoC works. FLoC will roll out to Chrome only, soon in the future. Some more testing will be coming later for Chrome users.
So, where does Google FLoC takes us? The answer is obvious. Our data was being collected before and it will be collected. The approach would be different. It will put a mask on our faces at least but the result would be the same. Let’s see if it works as it is proposed to lead the web to a safer place and doesn’t put any damage to the web.
Privacy Sandbox of Google is for the cookie-less future and its main purpose to keep the identity of the user hidden.
Yes, by using third-party cookies, anyone can track your location and other data as well.
No, third party cookies are not safe. You should block cookies if any website ask for it.