Is Google watching you? The tech giant is currently trialling an experimental tracking feature that will use personal browsing history to categorize users into groups or “cohorts” according to their interests and online habits.
The feature, called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), runs through your browser and will send your FLoC identification to every website you visit at their request.
According to Google, the initial testing of FLoC is taking place with a small percentage of users in Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines and the U.S. The tech giant plans on reaching other regions as the trial expands globally.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) warns: “The Chrome original trial for FloC has been deployed to millions of random Chrome users without warning, much less consent. While FLoC is eventually intended to replace tracking cookies, during the trial, it will give trackers access to even more information about subjects.”
In response to the move, EFF launched a new website designed to alert you if your Chrome browser is currently being used in the trial. You can test your browser by visiting Am I FloCed?
EFF went on to describe Google’s experiment as irresponsible and antagonistic to users.
“FLoC, with marginal improvements on privacy, is riddled with issues, and yet is planned to be rolled out to millions of users around the world with no proper notification, opt-in consent, or meaningful individual opt-out at launch,” the website said.
“This is not just one more Chrome experiment. This is a fundamental change to the browser and how people are exploited for their data. After all the pushback, concerns, and issues, the fact that Google has chosen to ignore the warnings is telling of where the company standards with regard to our privacy.”
Users are being encouraged to stop using Chrome and opt for an alternative browser, such as Brave, which promises it never has and never will save your private information, unlike Google.