If you’ve visited many websites in the past few days, you’ve likely noticed an increase in ads and pop-ups. These pop-ups may contain information that could tell advertisers what to display to you in the future. This new technology, called FLoC, may be the answer. It can also predict your behavior based on your recent browsing habits. While this new technology isn’t as intrusive as it sounds, it still poses a number of privacy concerns.
A recent article from the Electronic Frontier Foundation argues that FLoC has both benefits and risks. While FLoC does allow for better profiling of users, privacy advocates worry that FLoCed tracking will lead to an increase in personal information collection and data collection. This article explores FLoC’s privacy implications and the implications for online privacy. Also, we’ll look at how FLoC differs from third-party cookies.
The FLoC API can help companies understand general browsing behavior and interests of users. While these data should not be used to identify individuals, FLoCed can help identify individuals within cohorts. Moreover, FLoC data is collected at the browser level, not on an individual level. Thus, individual browsers are assigned to cohorts based on similar browsing history. The cohorts are updated every seven days, ensuring that personal information remains secure.
In addition to keeping browsing history on your device, FLoC also keeps it out of the hands of third-party companies. These companies had amassed enormous amounts of data about users and could not be certain that their data would be safe. By analyzing the cohorts before using them, Google will prevent those users from viewing sensitive topics. But FLoCed is not an absolute solution to the privacy concerns that it causes.
There are several benefits to FLoC. The technology allows ad companies to learn more about the people who view their ads. By analyzing browsing behavior, it can determine the interests of a cohort. The downside of FLoC is that it is inherently unethical. Listed below are some of the alternatives to FLoCed.
Privacy advocates have also expressed concerns about FLoC. While grouping users into cohorts may mask the identity of individual users, they still worry that this practice may pose a privacy threat. In addition, privacy advocates argue that grouping users by their browsing habits will enable Google to understand more about the people who use their devices. They might even be able to identify individual users. That’s why they’ve been advocating for an alternative to FLoC.
Google’s experiment has raised privacy concerns and abuse scenarios. Google says FLoCs don’t share sensitive information with advertisers, but this is still a question of “how sensitive” is sensitive? It is also possible that Google’s algorithm could create cohorts that reflect sensitive characteristics. That way, advertisers could discriminate against users.
Alternatives to FLoC
Earlier this year, Google announced plans to stop supporting third-party cookies for ads, and the search giant moved away from tracking user browsing histories. It uses anonymous data to serve ads to groups based on similar behavior. It may not work, but Google’s competitors have expressed concerns about the lack of privacy protection. In the meantime, online advertisers are proposing SWAN, a new standard to serve ads without cookies.
Google explains that FLoC will not cause privacy issues, but it may still be a privacy concern. Fortunately, Google has promised not to use third-party tracking cookies and will phase them out by the end of 2022. Until then, other browsers like Firefox and Safari already block third-party cookies. However, the company has yet to introduce a viable alternative to FLoC, which would protect users’ privacy.
FLoC is an algorithm that groups users into cohorts based on their general interests and demographics. This allows advertisers to show relevant ads to these groups based on the information they’ve collected about users. However, FLoC is not specific enough to identify individuals. Because of this, it’s a good idea to opt out of FLoC if you’re concerned about privacy issues.