In early 2020 Google announced its plan to end third-party cookies in Chrome and that was to replace this common tracking of user activity on the Internet. Chetna Bindra, Product Manager for User Trust, Privacy and Transparency at Google, spoke with Genbeta about an API the company was working on as part of the Privacy Sandbox experiments: Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC).
A year and a half later, FLoC is already more than a reality within the Google Chrome browser. But a reality with a lot of controversy, both in the private sector with companies that want to block this system, and among European public authorities.
However, if we take into account that the usual third-party cookies Nor are they a panacea, also keep in mind that FLoC doesn't sound too bad for privacy. Opposing voices, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, say that the idea of privacy that Google sold does not fit reality. The point is that if you want to disable that tracking, you can.
This is how you can disable FLoC in Chrome
The latest version of Google Chrome Canary has a new feature to disable FLoC in Google's Chrome web browser. Up to now, one of the options Chrome users had to opt out of FLoC tracking was to disable cookies from third parties.
Now with the Chrome Canary build 93.0.4528.0, comes a setting to control the FLoC directly, as published by gHacks.
The setting is not yet visible by default and is achieved by disabling a "flag". You have to enter this address in the latest version of Canary, in the address bar of the browser:
chrome: // flags / # privacy-sandbox-settings-2
The first of the results is the one that interests you. "Privacy Sandbox Settings 2". It is enabled by default and you must click on that "Default" option on the right and choose "Enabled" or enabled. Although it is misleading that you have to enable these privacy Sandbox settings, by choosing this option you can later have control over FLoC.
Restart your browser for your choice to take effect. Put the following address on the navigation bar:
chrome: // settings / privacySandbox
There you can control your privacy with FLoC. Google explains that if you enable this control and its status is "on", Chrome will determine the large group of people, or "cohort", the one that most closely resembles your recent browsing activity. Advertisers will be able to select the ads for the group, and your browsing activity will be kept private on your device. Your group is updated every 7 days. This test is activated only in some regions.
Chrome will use the same old cookies again. In the future, Google could apply its tracking system on a mandatory basis to all users. But, for now, it can be disabled.
The previous alternative of deactivating third-party cookies
If you don't want to be tracked by FLoC, another option is to change the browser. If you don't want to leave Chrome aside but if you want to disable this possibility You can go to preferences "of Google Chrome from the drop-down menu of" Chrome ", or, you can enter chrome: // settings in your url bar and hit enter. Choose the option "Privacy and Security" or privacy and security.
Click on "Cookies and other site data" and there You access the option to disable tracking through cookies. You have several alternatives, as you can see in the following image, and you can choose the one you prefer the most.
How to know if you are being "flocked"
In addition, the aforementioned Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has created a website called "Am I FLoCed?" and that it serves, precisely, to see if you are being tracked by this new system in testing mode that is present in some countries of the world and with the idea of reaching more. "Google is testing FLoC on Chrome users around the world. Find out if you are one of them," says the web.
Google itself when it launched its test, did not provide any individualized notifications to users affected by these new trace tests. And this was the response from the EFF. Access the page https://amifloced.org/ in your Chrome browser in versions 89 or higher. Scroll down slightly and you will see a red box that lets you know if you have a FLoC ID. Press and you will automatically know if you are being tracked.
"If you have been assigned a FLoC ID, it means that your browser has processed your browsing history and assigned you to a group of" several thousand "similar users. FLoC ID is the label of a behavior group. This number label does not make sense by itself. However, large advertisers (such as Google) and websites will be able to analyze the traffic of millions of users to find out what the members of a particular FLoC ID have in common, "explained the EFF.
A new way of meeting the public
As Google explains in your browser settings, today, websites rely on various technologies (for example, third-party cookies) to deliver relevant ads or measure the performance of a site. Privacy Sandbox is still under development and is available in select regions. For now, sites can use the Privacy Sandbox and continue to use current web technologies, such as third-party cookies.
If you enable this option, sites will be able to use Google's alternatives to cross-site tracking. "When there are thousands of users with a similar interest (like a crowd at a concert), advertisers will be able to find out and select ads for that crowd, rather than for each person individually. "