Internet users are increasingly wanting more anonymous surfing experience, which has a huge impact on advertising, eCommerce, and the online economy as a whole. If the company cannot track you with third party cookies, more difficult to make money. Google is testing a new technology to replace a cookie called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) which, according to Google, will help protect users’ privacy and current business models for online companies.
You can read an overview of Google’s technology here, but the point is that the user will have a unique FLoC ID. Your ID is not technically recognizable, but you will be grouped with other users with similar internet histories – your “cohort”. Instead of selling individual data, companies like Google will sell cohort data to advertisers.
But while “personal” on paper, as we have described before, that’s not entirely true. In fact, FLoC may be just as annoying – if not more so – than third -party cookies. Depending on the size of the cohort and the number of cohorts a person owns in the database, a person can be identified, among other things other serious concerns.
The good news is that FLoC will only be applied to Chrome – no other browser uses FLoC, not even other Chromium browsers like Brave, Edge, or Vivaldi. It is also not ready for full -scale implementation. In fact, Google has delayed the launch of FLoC for Chrome. However, it is currently in an early experimental phase, and may be in your browser right now as a new feature called “Privacy Sandbox.” To be fair, less than 1% of Chrome users are part of the Privacy Sandbox test, but that test can evolve over time, and it’s possible you’ll sign up for this new form of tracking without realize it.
Fortunately, it’s easy to check if the Privacy Sandbox is enabled, and if so, you can block it or opt out.
How to check and disable Privacy Sandbox (FLoC) in Chrome
Privacy Sandbox is only active for Chrome and small desktop users in the United States state, Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and the Philippines. It’s not on iOS devices (yet).
However, it needs to be checked to see if the feature is active. These steps apply to Android, Windows, Mac, and Linux versions:
- Open Chrome and go to Settings> Privacy and security> Privacy Sandbox.
- This will open the Privacy Sandbox landing page even if you are not part of the Experiment.
- If “Privacy Sandbox Trial” toggle is turned on, then FLoC is enabled. Click / tap to turn it off – don’t turn it on if you don’t want Chrome to use FLoC.
Alternatively, “Am I FLoCed?” the website quickly checked out the Privacy Sandbox experiment in Chrome. If the test is positive, use the steps above to turn off FLoC tracking.
If you don’t see an option in Chrome’s settings, then you’re not part of the test. That doesn’t mean you won’t be added to Privacy Sandbox trials in the future. Thankfully, Chrome users can preblock effectively using FLoC tracking DuckDuckGo’s browser extension.