Google starts testing Federated Learning of Cohorts technology in Chrome - an alternative to cookies
Google has announced the start of testing the new Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) technology for developers. FLoC aims to be an alternative to third-party cookies. Unlike cookies, which track the actions of each specific user, FLoC collects users into interest groups or cohorts.
The cohort, as intended by Google, will be specific enough to satisfy advertisers, but not so specific as to allow marketers to personally identify a user.
“With FLoC, the browser will determine which cohort your online activities are in and will direct you to a group of thousands of others with the same history. Advertisers will only be provided with a cohort ID. This approach differs from the way cookies work, which tracks a specific user on each site, ”said Marshall Weil, director of product at Google Privacy Sandbox.
Tests will begin in the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and the Philippines. Over time, Google plans to scale globally. The technology will not be tested in the European Union due to concerns of the company about the GDPR and other privacy rules - in part because it is not yet clear whether FLoC identifiers should be considered personal data in accordance with these rules.
“When other browsers started blocking third-party cookies by default, we were interested in this direction, but we were worried about the short-term consequences,” said Marshall Weill. “We absolutely need a more private internet, but many site owners rely on cookie-based advertising. We've seen that blocking cookies already generates privacy-compromising workarounds. Overall, we felt that blocking third-party cookies directly without viable alternatives would be irresponsible and even harmful. ”
The initiative has already raised skepticism from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which believes that FLoC will only make it easier to track users, for example, using various FLoC identifiers.
It's worth noting that FLoC, like other Google privacy initiatives, is under development. The company says the idea is to learn from the initial testing and evolve the project accordingly.