Google is working alone with advertising technology it offers to replace third-party cookies. All major browsers that use the open source Chromium project refuse to use it, and it is not clear what this will mean for the future of web advertising.
A couple of weeks ago, Google announced that it would begin testing a new ad technology within Google Chrome called the Federated Learning of Cohorts or FLoC.It uses algorithms to view your browser history and put you among the people with history. Traffic is similar so advertisers can target you. More private than cookies But they are complex and have their own privacy implications if not used properly.
Google Chrome was built on an open source project, so FLoC was used as part of that project, which other browsers may include. I am not aware of any Chromium-based browser outside of Google itself that would be used and are aware of a lot to deny.
One thing I̵7;m going to leave here is that I am instantly relieved that no one is using FLoC, because the way FLoC was created took the browser maker a lot of responsibility. If used poorly, FLoC may leak sensitive information. It’s a complex technology that seems to keep you anonymous. But there is enough detail to hide dozens of demons.
However, this is Brave: “The worst thing about FLoC is that it hurts the privacy of its users in a very privacy-friendly guise.” VivaldiA: “We are not going to support the FLoC API and plan to disable it no matter how we use it. It does not protect privacy and it is certainly not in the interests of users to inadvertently provide their privacy for Google’s financial gain. ”
We have contacted Opera As for comment as well, here is the statement by the said company:
As you may know, Opera has a long history of introducing privacy features that are useful to our users: it is the first major browser to introduce built-in ad blocking, browser VPN and its features. Another focus on privacy right now is the termination of third-party cookies, which reduces the amount of cross-site tracking on the web. While we and other browsers are discussing new and better privacy-preserving advertising options for cookies including FloC, we have no current plans to enable a feature like this in our browsers. Sir Opera in its current form. However, in general, we think it’s too early to tell where the market is going or what major browsers will do.
DuckDuckGo is not thought of as a browser. But it has built browsers for iOS and Android on desktop, it has built browser extensions for other browsers to block it, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is highly anti-FLoC, has made its website for Let you know if you are one of the few Chrome users included in the initial Google test.
But it’s probably the most important Chromium-based browser that Google hasn’t built. Microsoft EdgeIt’s a big test for the FLoC technology Google offers: If Microsoft doesn’t offer support, it means Chrome will be using the technology alone.
In the grand tradition of a Congressional tech ruling, I asked Microsoft if it was yes or no: is it intended to use FLoC in Edge? And in the same great tradition, Microsoft replied:
We believe in a future where the web can provide people with privacy, transparency and control, while supporting responsible business models to create a vibrant, open and diverse ecosystem, just like Google us. Support solutions that provide explicit user consent and do not skip consumer choices. That’s why we do not support solutions that exploit unauthorized user identification signals such as fingerprinting. The industry is on the go and will have browser-based offers that do not require individual user IDs and ID-based offers based on consent and first-party relationships. We will continue to explore these guidelines together with the community. For example, we have recently been pleased to introduce one possible approach as described in our PARAKEET Proposal. But it is a developing document.
That’s a lot to unpack. But it sounded a lot like “no” to me. However, it was “no” to some important context. But before I get too deep, let’s talk about two non-Chromium browsers, because one important part of all is that Google’s FLoC technology is still. The offer. Google says it wants it to be a fundamental part of the web, not just new features in browsers.
This is the statement made by a Mozilla spokesperson for the plan for us. Firefox: A.
We are currently evaluating a number of privacy advertising offers, including those introduced by Google, but there are no current plans to implement them at this time.
We don’t buy on the premise that the industry needs billions of data points about people gathered and shared without them understanding to show relevant ads. That is why we use advanced tracking protection by default to block tens of billions of followers daily and continue to innovate to protect people who use Firefox.
Advertising and privacy can coexist. And the advertising industry is operating very differently than in the past year. We look forward to playing a role in finding solutions that build a better web.
For apple SafariI admit I didn’t reach out for comment because at this point it’s not hard to guess what the answer will be.After all, Apple deserves credit for changing everyone’s default views on privacy. The story here, however, is a lot more interesting than you might have guessed at first.John Wilander is an Apple WebKit engineer working on Safari’s enhanced privacy-enhancing Intelligent Tracking Prevention feature.He was asked on Twitter whether Safari would use FLoC. And this is his answer:
We are not saying that we will take action and we have our anti-tracking policy. That is now Serious standard proposals are worth thinking about, and thank you to Brave for sharing them.
– John Wilander (@johnwilander) April 12, 2021
Wilander’s answer takes Microsoft’s saying “the industry is on the go” when it comes to balancing new advertising technology and privacy. But it talks about what is very important: web standards that people take their work very seriously and take seriously the process of web standards that create the open web.
I tend to view the process as slow, contentious and frustrating. It’s all those things But it is also a last resort to prevent splitting the entire web into pages that are compatible with only certain web browsers. That’s not a web at all.
So what you can expect to be a tough “no” from Apple (and something that will almost certainly be “no” in the end) becomes a commitment to the web standards process and take the Google offer seriously. Ditto from Microsoft
All of this happens because every major browser has or will soon block third-party cookies, which is the default way to identify you and track you on the web. And every major browser is committed to ensuring that you are unable to identify third party advertisers. Even Google’s own advertising team is talking a lot.
The end of these cookies is called Cookiepocalypse And it’s the end of the world because no one really knows what advertisers will do when those tracking methods are forgotten. Now, the big browser vendors are offering a new and different solution.
Apple, Google, and Microsoft all have ideas for how web ads work. We’ve talked about Google’s FLoC so far, but you might be surprised to hear that Apple isn’t just trying to stop all ads. There are advertisements that increase their own privacy. And a random reference to PARAKEET in the command of Microsoft? Other ad offers
The problem is Cookiepocalypse. Near Many browsers already block third-party cookies. Google Chrome is an important part of blocking third-party cookies. But also the browser with the most market share.
Google intends to cut third-party cookies in 2022, but the Web’s standard process didn’t seem to be answered at the time. In fact, other Google deals won’t begin testing until later this year, which is too late to run by the ad industry if Google holds up to its original promises. Who knows what advertisers will do?
The technology here is complex, the process is slow, and the results are not clear. That’s the same as for the web course. Usually, I will tell you not to worry about it and let the W3C take its course. But the stakes are high: your privacy, huge sums of money, and the site’s own compatibility could all add up in smoke if these browser makers don’t figure out a way to string them. All this Cookiepocalypse, of course.
Update 2:15 p.m. ET April 16.: Add commands from Opera.
Edit 6:30 PM ET April 16: Notice that DuckDuckGo produces browsers for iOS and Android.