Google argues that this new technology protects users’ privacy while tracking them to deliver relevant online ads. But, Mozilla, the company that created Firefox, disagrees, claiming that FLoC might represent a “significant” privacy danger to users.
For displaying the relevant online ads to you, Google wants to replace third-party cookies with its new FLoC standard. FLoC is an acronym for Federated Learning of Cohorts. Google argues that this new technology protects users’ privacy while tracking them to deliver relevant online ads. But, Mozilla, the company that created Firefox, disagrees, claiming that FLoC might represent a “significant” privacy danger to users.
FLoC is now a complicated idea. Instead of creating individual profiles for digital ads, FLoC will generate a group of users (at least 1000) with similar interests, to whom advertisers will be able to showcase ads. As a result, rather than receiving ads based on your individual choices, you will be a part of bigger anonymous groups and will receive ads tailored to your preferences.
In a blog post, Mozilla, on the other hand, stated that “FLoC spills more information than you want.”
Mozilla explained, “With cookie-based tracking, the amount of information a tracker gets is determined by the number of sites it is embedded on…FLoC undermines these more restrictive cookie policies: because FLoC IDs are the same across all sites, they become a shared key to which trackers can associate data from external sources,”
FLoC is being tested on Chrome 90, and new settings under the Privacy and Security options are being rolled out, although it hasn’t been broadly rolled out yet. The tech industry has not been supportive of Google’s decision to replace third-party cookies with FLoC. The Industry does not appreciate this approach because it offers Google more control over digital advertising businesses, increasing Google’s income while hurting third-parties. Microsoft Edge, Apple Safari, and Mozilla Firefox have all stated that they have no intentions to incorporate FLoC in the near future.
Mozilla further claimed, “FLoC is premised on a compelling idea: enable ad targeting without exposing users to risk. But the current design has a number of privacy properties that could create significant risks if it were to be widely deployed in its current form.”