In a blog post recently DuckDuckGo has alerted the users of Google Chrome about the new tracking method of Chrome. They mentioned that many users have unknowingly entered into Google’s new tracking method. This method is known as Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC). As per the blog, FLoC creates groups of users based on their interests and demographics. These are obtained from the search history of the users. By this, the company can aim for unwanted, creepy advertising as well as content without third-party cookies.
The post mentions that Google had tried this for some time in the past and they had come to the conclusion that they are not going to let this new tracking method a thing of the user’s choice. Therefore, several users got included in the system automatically. The blog read, “FLoC is bad for privacy: It puts you in a group based on your browsing history, and any website can get that group FLoC ID to target and fingerprint you.”
Till now, only Google Chrome has launched this feature and other browser vendors have not even shown any interest in enabling any feature of this kind. So, what DuckDuckGo has suggested in the post is that to stop using Google Chrome and to go for any other browser. For iOS or Android users, the blog suggested going for their mobile browsers as they have privacy protection by default when searching and browsing.
The blog said, “Change your Chrome and/or Google settings, which we recommend you do in any case if you continue to use Chrome. It seems (but Google isn’t very clear about this so we aren’t certain) that if you perform any of the following, then Google will exclude you from FLoC, at least for the time being. And as there are still many unknowns and things are changing rapidly, the effectiveness of these steps may change in future.”
The users can log out of their Google account and continue the same. Also, they can stop syncing their history with Google. A sync passphrase can be created though. The blog further advised the users to visit Google Activity Controls and turn off “Web & App Activity” or “Include Chrome history and activity from sites, apps, and devices that use Google services.” In Google Ad Settings, ‘Ad Personalization’ can also be turned off.