Google to soon start tracking users for advertisements in a new way

Google has announced that it will stop using “cookies” to track users and provide them with personalised advertisements. The tech giant said that it will now be using a new system called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), which will hide individuals in the crowd and use on-device processing to keep a person’s web history private on the browser. The company will start testing FLoC with advertisers later this year inside of Chrome.

Google earlier last month stated that the new FLoC will improve online privacy while still enabling advertisers to serve up relevant advertisements. “Advertising is essential to keeping the Web open for everyone, but the Web ecosystem is at risk if privacy practices do not keep up with changing expectations,” said Google product manager Chetna Bindra.

Cookie tracking has been under scrutiny for the personal privacy of users, due to which legislations like GDPR have been passed in Europe, with other countries looking to implement similar legislation. A feature like FLoC will help Google in providing the right amount of data to advertisers without knowing too much about any individual person.

Privacy issues

Third-party cookies are text files stored when a user visits a website that consists of everything that a user has done. When such data is shared with advertisers it is a bit concerning as they get to know everything that an individual has done on a particular website.

Electronic Frontier Foundation staff technologist Bennet Cyphers told AFP that the new FLoC technology could make privacy problems worse as they could create “cohort” badges of people who may be targeted with little transparency. This could lead to advertisers easily decoding the labels to a certain point like the label users ages, genders or races and which are people prone to extreme political views.

What others are doing?

Safari and Firefox have already done away with third-party cookies, in favour of alternatives. However, Chrome, which accounts for 63 percent of the global browser market last year, according to StatCounter, still continues to use cookies thus bringing it in the firing line of its users privacy.

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