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  • Yahshua H.

The Google Alternative to Cookies.

Google wants to remove cookies, its main digital advertising business. Against this, the alternative that it presents us is google flow. Do you want to know what this exciting alternative is and how Google wants to end cookies? Well, here I tell you.

FLoC, which in addition to resembling the name of a tony hawk trick, is a touch system with which Google identifies the preferences of users and as they claim to maintain their privacy. As Google says, "users should not have to accept being dragged on the net to benefit from relevant advertising" with this, FLoC was born, an API focused on privacy and open source. A solution that is already being tested in the new versions of chrome and the world of online advertising will have to adapt if you want to continue working with google.

Google is not the only company wanting to reinvent the cookie system; Firefox already blocks tracking, and apple with safari has recently been updated to block third-party cookies. In google chrome, it won't be until 2022 when support ends. From there, FLoC should be ready. But we are going to get into the subject a little bit and explain in-depth how PLoC works. What are the challenges ahead, and if it will be a great or a terrible idea as claimed by the EFF; FLoC is based on assigning each user to a cohort. In matters such as statistics or marketing, a cohort is a group of subjects who share a defining characteristic; some interests go to a group of thousands of other users with whom interests are shared. This way, when the interests are grouped, the user's data is not specified, and their privacy is maintained. A categorization by groups that would remain in the browser where the algorithm would only send the idea of ​​the cohort. According to the first tests, which is 95% effective for advertisers when it comes to identifying each person's tastes.

FLoC's idea is to obtain a sufficiently diffuse system to complicate the identification of personal data but specific enough so that advertisers can send their ads appropriately. And when did I enter the google FLoC heading? This new system will be open to the public from April with google chrome 90, where users will begin to be able to touch the privacy settings regarding data tracking.

Initially, as Google explains, the user can only activate or deactivate FLoC, and there will be no further customization. Still, the goal is that the user can progressively have better control. At stake even a billion-dollar business, that of cookies. For those who do not know, in the field of computing, cookies are information sent by a website and stored in the user's browser so that once you enter again, they will show you things closer to your interests. Cookies have served many advertisers for years, and now they must change the way they work. And it is that Google has already warned that we are in the midpoint and there is no going back. This change in the cookie system can revolutionize the online advertising market from top to bottom. But not all of it is good news with this FLoC. Companies such as DuckDuckGo or Brave are not very in favor of google FLoC. Once you use chrome or log in to a google account, it automatically activates this new system without warning you and anything. Therefore both companies have decided to block its use in their different browsers. Even pages like WordPress are debating whether to stop Google's FLoC as a security threat.

FLoC is not a proposal supported by W3C either, although google explains that they have an open conversation with the world wide web consortium in charge of web standards. As said by EFF, FLoC will avoid privacy risks from third-party cookies but will create new ones in the process. Also, many of the worst problems related to behavioral advertising such as discrimination or predatory practices. In other words, they fear that with FLoC, we are categorized by things like our sexual orientation or race. The organization in defence of internet freedoms points out that Google still needs to specify better how the ID of each cohort will be generated, how much it will know and who will have access to this information if it is established that each week the cuts will be recalculated based on the browsing data of the previous week, which will cause them to be less valuable in the long term but more powerful when it comes to knowing how the behavior of users changes with time.

Beyond the size of the groups themselves, which could be very vague or too specific, Google works to avoid some of the cohorts generated based on sensitive categories such as race or sexual orientation. This change of google FLoC, for now, will not enter Europe. Michael Kléber, google engineer, has acknowledged that for the moment, the privacy sandbox project, which includes FLoC, will not be approved in Europe and will not be adapted to the general European data protection regulation. Google has been quick to clarify these statements and explain that they are 100% committed to the privacy sandbox in Europe and are ready to carry out the tests as soon as possible. According to Google sources, the answers to the questions about compliance with specific laws and obligations will ultimately activate the technical functioning of the sandbox proposals. In any case, what we know is that we are in a massive paradigm shift in digital advertising. But will it be for better or for worse?


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