Google has quietly introduced a new targeted advertising technology in the Chrome browser without telling the users involved. The new method is heavily criticized.
A week ago, Federated Learning of Cohorts, or FLoC, was implemented in millions of browsers that will now sort their users into groups based on behaviour and then share their group labels with third-party trackers advertisers. Those covered have been selected randomly and can only refuse participation by disabling third-party cookies, so-called cookies, in Chrome.
The site Electronic Frontier Foundation, EFF, is strongly critical and believes that FLoC is a bad idea and that it constitutes a concrete breach of users’ trust in a technology that should not exist.
According to EFF, FLoC will help advertisers target advertising when third-party cookies disappear, but during the sharp test that is underway, the new technology will work in parallel. This means that all trackers who monitor users’ online behaviour will now also have access to their FLoC ID.
At present, the test fuction must have been implemented among users in certain regions but no European countries. Right now, it is about 0.5 per cent of the users in the affected regions, but the team behind FLoC should have requested that the share be increased to five per cent, which would mean tens or hundreds of millions.