In this article, we will talk about the controversial Privacy Sandbox initiative in Google Chrome, and also tell you how to abandon it by disabling it in the browser.
Most Internet users prefer their browsing to be safe and confidential. However, it also has an economic aspect, because it affects such areas as advertising, e-commerce, and online economy as a whole. When a company can’t track you using third-party cookies, making money becomes more difficult. Google is testing a new technology to replace cookies called Federated Learning of Cohorts (Flock), which, according to Google, will help preserve user privacy and current business models for online companies.
FLoC means Federated Learning of Cohorts. This is a method that allows you to group Internet users and eventually create targeted advertising, but without explicitly obtaining information about specific people. Theoretically, this should be safer, because the advertiser will receive data only about a certain group of users (at best, at least several thousand people) and will not have access to the browsing history, as happens in the case of cookies.
The assignment of users to the specified groups should be performed locally, on specific computers. Only after that, the finished and pre-processed data can be pushed further. Thus, theoretically, advertisers will be able to create an advertising campaign and, based on group ids, show it to users with certain interests, but without detailed knowledge about these people.
The good news is that FLoC is implemented only in Chrome — no other browser will use FLoC, not even other Chromium browsers like Brave, Edge or Vivaldi. The method is not yet ready for full implementation. In fact, Google has postponed the introduction of FLoC for Chrome. However, it is currently at an early stage of testing and may turn out to be new feature called the Privacy Sandbox in your browser. At the moment, less than 1% of Chrome users pass the Privacy Sandbox test, but testing may expand over time, and it’s possible that you could easily subscribe to this new tracking form without even noticing it.
Fortunately, it’s easy to check if the Privacy Sandbox is enabled on your device, and if it is, you can block it or opt out of testing.
How to check and disable the Privacy Sandbox (FLoC) in Chrome
You can opt out of the Privacy Sandbox (FLoC) by changing a simple setting in Google Chrome.
- Go to Google Chrome, click on the colon in the upper right corner and go to Settings.
2. Open the Security and Privacy section on the right.
3. At the bottom left you will see the Privacy Sandbox subsection. Even a cursory glance is enough to see that its functions are enabled.
4. After opening this subsection, disable the Privacy Sandbox to opt out.
The most interesting thing is that in the latest versions of Google Chrome, a section for FLoC has also appeared, but it is currently disabled by default. If someone has it turned on, you can disable it here:
Now your Chrome browser will never join the program. However, when Google releases Privacy Sandbox as a stable feature for all Chrome users, it may be re-enabled by default.