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DuckDuckGo wants to block Google's FloC
Google will abolish third-party cookies by 2022 and offer advertisers new solutions from the so-called privacy sandbox. FloC is currently being tested as an alternative tracking system outside of Europe - and is attracting the first critics, such as the competing search engine DuckDuckGo. The reason: FloC cannot be switched off by users in the Chrome browser. Tracking - even if not personal as with third-party cookies - would take place by default, according to the search engine. DuckDuckGo explains:
We're disappointed that, despite the many publicly voiced concerns with FLoC that have not yet been addressed, Google is already forcing FLoC upon users without explicitly asking them to opt in. We're nevertheless committed and will continue to do our part to deliver on our vision of raising the standard of trust online.
As a consequence, the search engine updated its own extension for the Chrome browser. In the latest DuckDuckGo version for the Google browser, users can block tracking via FloC. The extension update is not yet available. As with other add-ons, Google checks the extension beforehand and has to give the go here. DuckDuckGo is confident that the extension will be approved for Chrome.
DuckDuckGo: FloC enables "creepy advertising"
While Google emphasizes with the implementation of FloC as an alternative to third party cookies that the protection of user data is enormously improved, DuckDuckGo sharply criticizes the new technology on Twitter:
FLoC groups you based on your interests & demographics, using your browsing history, to enable creepy advertising & other content targeting without third-party cookies. It continues to facilitate the manipulation, discrimination, and filter bubbles synonymous with such targeting.- DuckDuckGo (@DuckDuckGo) April 9, 2021
Unlike the third party cookies, Google's new solution no longer enables personal tracking. With FloC, the search engine divides users into so-called cohorts based on their usage habits. For advertisers, this means - to put it simply - that advertising is only shown to suitable user groups. An individual addressing of potential customers due to saved search histories etc. is no longer possible and therefore contributes to data protection, according to Google.
"Don't use Google Chrome!": DuckDuckGo criticizes Google's tracking methods
DuckDuckGo sees it differently, however. On the website, the search engine, which is designed for data protection, clearly demands:
Don’t use Google Chrome! Right now FLoC is only in Google Chrome, and no other browser vendor has expressed an intention or even interest to implement it.
For websites that want to protect users from FloC tracking, DuckDuckGo recommends:
Websites can take steps to protect the privacy of their users by opting out of FLoC, which would be applicable to all their visitors. It's done by simply sending the following Permissions Policy HTTP response header:
Permissions-Policy: interest-cohort = ()
Google itself promises - regardless of the criticism - to continue working on data protection-compatible alternatives for third-party cookies.
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