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Google FLoC. Is Google Delaying It For Amelioration?

Advertising has become a big part of the marketing industry. Ranging from products to services, we see all kinds of ads while we are on the internet. But with the prospect of increasing sales and customer count for the companies, advertisements come with a major security backlog which every organisation is aware of. This puts our data and privacy at risk, but the question is do companies evaluate any such risks while signing up for an ad program.

To curate this, Google stood up with the idea of introducing the technology of FLoC, or Federated Learning of Cohorts. It intends to give advertisers a way of targeting ads without disclosing details on individual users, and it does this by grouping people with similar interests together like football fans, truck drivers, retired travellers, or whatever it is.

With this intent, Google wants to vary the way we're tracked around the web, and given the broad use of its Chrome browser, the shift could have significant security and privacy implications. With FLoC, rather than individual cookies being aggregated at the individual level and passed from sites to platforms, browsing data would live within each individual browser. FLoC would then assign individual browsers to larger groups or cohorts of thousands of users based upon that browsing data. FLoC is asserted on the thought of a Privacy Sandbox, a Google-led initiative for websites to request certain bits of data about users without exceeding the mark. Besides FLoC, the Privacy Sandbox covers other technologies too like preventing ad fraud, helping website developers analyze their incoming traffic, measuring advertising effectiveness, and so on.

Google wants FLoC to replace the normal way of tracking people on the internet i.e., cookies. These little bits of text and code are stored on your computer or phone by your browser, and they help websites find out if you've visited before, what your site preferences are, where within the world you're based, and more. They will be helpful for both websites and their visitors, but they're also heavily employed by advertisers and data brokers to create patterns of our browsing history.

Although FLoC was being tested in the final stages, Google has delayed the rollout of FLoC delayed until 2023. This could be an indication that Google is adjusting how the privacy-focused ad-targeting system will operate once introduced. Taking anticipations from the news circling the market, A lead engineer helping guide Google’s Privacy Sandbox development has revealed signs of what could also be next for the firm’s most advanced cookieless ad targeting method.

This may be a response to evidence that the previous method of FLoC which initially didn't pass muster with GDPR might enable fingerprinting, which suggests bad actors could still track individuals and that is something FLoC is expressly created to ban. “Topics have a variety of benefits over cohorts. Users can see what’s being said about them and know it,” said Josh Karlin, a tech lead manager of Google’s Privacy Sandbox team.

At the end of the day, what matters is our privacy and the protection of our data. Citing the promises and claims made by Google, we may assume that bringing FLoC into the market may reduce the chances of data breaches and hold ads from accessing user details. While some are resisting this move, we'll get to see what FLoC really holds in itself.


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