‘Federated Learning of Cohorts’, or FLoC for friends, is an experimental Google tool that divides users according to their Internet consumption and then offers advertising
When Google decided that they were going to do without third-party cookies to sell advertising, many wondered why other technology was going to replace them. It seems that the unknown has already been solved.
In a new publication on its official blog, entitled: “Privacy, sustainability and the importance of ‘and'”, Google confirms the launch of a test in Google Chrome browsers of the technology baptized as Federated Learning of Cohorts, or for its acronym , FLoC.
The browsers of millions of users around the world, since Chrome is the most used of all globally, will begin to use FLoC to group them into different categories according to their behavior when they browse the Internet in order to let advertisers know what interests have these groups and thus be able to sell them targeted advertising for users
From Google, they assure EL MUNDO that “the groups are so large that they are made up of thousands of users, so individual users cannot be identified. At the same time, the members are similar enough that they are probably interested in the same type of content or advertisements. “
The categories that Google will use are unknown at the moment, but in this first test, according to EFF calculations, there are more than 33,000 possible variables.
The group of users selected to test this tool is random (from a specific group of countries that does not yet include Spain) and quite small (5% of the total), but Google will soon expand the trial with more users from other regions.
And for now, there is no way to refuse to participate. Google has not asked its users for explicit consent or developed an option to opt out of the FLoC test pool at this time. Future versions of Chrome, according to the company, will include this option.
Google ensures that it does not share your browsing history with others or categorize groups that it may consider sensitive, such as medical, religious or political websites. Similarly, websites can choose not to share their information with FLoC if they deem it appropriate. In this way, Google considers that it does not put its users at risk.
However, during the testing period, it does not appear that those responsible for the web pages will be able to leave and all those that offer advertising hosted by Google may be likely to be offering user data to Google through FLoC.
Google has clarified that its technology may change after these first tests, so the final version of FLoC may be far from what it is currently.
Given that the European Union established a very clear policy of restricting and consenting to tracking by third-party cookies for web pages that operate in Community territory, it is to be hoped that the legislation will adapt to this new format.
At the moment, Google does not plan to launch the FLoC testing program in the European Union due to possible incompatibilities with the GDPR. In the words of a company employee, which they collect on Ad Exchange, it is possible that this new tracking technology violates the GDPR. Google does not seem to be clear at the moment which entity would be responsible for monitoring it.