How to Disable Tracking for the New Privacy Sandbox in Google Chrome (and Why You Want It)
Internet users increasingly want more anonymous browsing , which is having a big impact on advertising, e-commerce, and the online economy in general. If a company cannot track you using third-party cookies , it will be more difficult to make money. Google is testing a new cookie replacement technology called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), which Google says will help preserve user privacy and current business models for online businesses.
You can read an overview of Google’s technology here , but the bottom line is that users will have a unique FLoC ID. Your ID is technically anonymous, but you will be merged with other users with a similar history on the Internet – your “cohorts”. Rather than selling data from individuals, companies like Google will sell cohort data to advertisers.
But while on paper it is “private,” as we explained earlier , it is not entirely true. In fact, FLoC is likely to be as intrusive, if not more so, than third-party cookies. Depending on the size of the cohort and the number of cohorts to which a person belongs in the database, someone can be plausibly identified among other serious problems .
The good news is that FLoC will only be implemented in Chrome – no other browser will use FLoC, not even other Chromium browsers like Brave, Edge, or Vivaldi. It is also not yet ready for full-scale implementation. In fact, Google has delayed the rollout of FLoC for Chrome. However, it is currently in an early trial phase and may be present in your browser right now as a new feature called privacy sandbox. To be honest, less than 1% of Chrome users participate in the Privacy Sandbox test, but the test may expand over time and you may have signed up for this new tracking form without even realizing it.
Fortunately, it’s easy to check if the privacy sandbox is enabled, and if so, you can block or opt out of it.
How to check and disable privacy sandbox (FLoC) in Chrome
The private sandbox is only active for a small subset of Android and Chrome desktop users in the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and the Philippines. It’s not on iOS devices (yet).
However, it is worth checking if this feature is active. These steps apply to Android, Windows, Mac and Linux versions of Chrome:
- Open Chrome and go to Settings> Privacy & Security> Confidential Sandbox.
- This will open the Privacy Sandbox landing page even if you are not in the trial.
- If the Confidentiality Test Environment Tests check box is enabled, then FLoC is enabled. Click / tap to turn it off – just don’t turn it on unless you want Chrome to use FLoC.
Alternatively, “Have I lost my way?” The site quickly checks for a Privacy Sandbox trial on Chrome. If the test is positive, follow the steps above to turn off FLoC tracking.
If you do not see this option in Chrome settings, then you are not participating in the test. However, this does not mean that you will not be added to the Privacy Sandbox trial in the future. Luckily, Chrome users can proactively block FLoC tracking with this DuckDuckGo browser extension .
[ ZDNet ]