Google is trying to shake up how the ad industry (and others) is tracking people online. At the heart of the changes is a feature in Google Chrome called “Privacy Sandbox,”
Privacy Sandbox is FLoC
Federated Learning of Cohorts, or FLoC for short, is a cornerstone of the “privacy-first future for web advertising” that Google outlined in a blog post in January 2021.
Google is primarily an advertising company. By tracking a user with a third-party tracking cookie, Google builds a profile every four years of the things the user is interested in, from their favorite sports teams to who they vote for. This ID is then used to target the user with specific ads that they are likely to be interested in and thus more likely to click.
The problem with tracking cookies is that they identify each user as a unique token. While the user’s identity is not necessarily disclosed, each user is treated by the search giant as a unique entity, albeit for advertising purposes only. FLoC wants to change this fundamental aspect of online advertising.
Rather than tracking users via a tracking cookie, FLoC runs on the browser side and analyzes a user’s online behavior locally. Using this browser history, Chrome tracks your browsing activity and puts you in a “cohort” of other users with similar tastes and habits. Chrome then reports that cohort to websites benefiting from FLoC.
In other words, instead of letting third-party websites track your browsing activity with third-party cookies, Chrome itself will track your browsing activity (locally) and let the websites you visit know what kind of ads you might be interested in. are.
As you might imagine, organizations like the EFF think this approach has its own privacy concerns. FLoC is controversial. As of May 2021, no other browser developers have announced plans to implement it.
How to disable (or enable) privacy sandbox
By default, the trial version of ‘Privacy Sandbox’ is enabled for all Chrome users. This does not mean that FLoC is enabled for your Chrome browser, but it does mean that Google can enable FLoC for your Chrome browser at any time. By early 2021, Google had enabled FLoC for 0.5% of Chrome users in regions such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, and the United States.
You can opt out of the Privacy Sandbox (FLoC) by changing a simple setting in Google Chrome.
To do this, start Chrome and click on menu> Settings.
Turn off the “Privacy Sandbox” switch to opt out of the Privacy Sandbox (also known as FLoC).
(To turn the option off, make sure it’s gray and on the left instead of blue and on the right.)
Now your Chrome browser will never participate in the FLoC trial period. However, when Google rolls out the Privacy Sandbox as a stable feature for all Chrome users, it can be re-enabled at that point. We’ll just have to see what happens.