Google also announced the implementation of Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), which is an important aspect of its Chrome Privacy Sandbox initiative. FLoC can replace cookies, which Google uses to remember your favourite language, make the advertisements you see more important to you, count how many visits a page gets, assist you in signing up for its services, secure your privacy, and remember your ad settings.
FLoC runs locally on your computer and categorises your surfing habits, forming cohorts of like-minded users. These groupings aren’t based on any real browsing histories; instead, they’re based on randomly selecting centres in “cohort space” or randomly chopping up the space with random lines.
Users would be able to hide among crowds of people who have common preferences and search histories. Advertisers will reach individuals based on their tastes using the cohort, while individual users’ privacy is protected. In essence, a cohort is a multi-dimensional space that reflects all users’ surfing behaviour.
FLoC is currently being tested in India, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, and the United States, with hopes to expand the experiment to other countries in the future. Because of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations, Google is not testing FLoC in the EU.
Users’ surfing data would not be shared with Google or any other advertiser through FLoC. The generation is classified by a unique number known as the FLoC ID, which is the only information exchanged when a website requests it. Chrome would not share cohorts it considers to be vulnerable. As a result, if a cohort’s users visit websites containing confidential material, such as religious or political content, FLoC will not share this information with marketers.
Google also mentions that its own ad spaces would have access to FLoC IDs in the same way that third-party marketers will. Users will be able to opt-in to the FLoC trials on a voluntary basis.