More and more Chromium-based browser makers confirm that they won’t include Google’s FLoC technology in their browsers. DuckDuckGo added FLoC blocking capabilities to its extension recently. Brave revealed earlier this week that it won’t include FLoC in the browser. Vivaldi Technologies published a new blog post on the official company blog in which it confirmed that the Vivaldi browser won’t support Google’s FLoC either.
FLoC, which stands for Federated Learning of Cohorts, is one of Google’s attempts to switch the advertising system from a user-based tracking system to a group-based tracking system. Google, which earns most of its revenue from advertising, paints FLoC in a privacy light because much of its revenue depends on it. A good article on why FLoC is bad is found on the EFF website.
Here is a short summary: FLoC puts Internet users into groups based on interests, instead of relying on cookies and other tracking options. While that sounds good at first, it has several serious disadvantages for the user. With FLoC enabled, any website that you visit may know about the interest group that a user is in; this includes the interests of the group that are generated from the browsing history which it needs to analyze.
Problem is: this happens even on your first visit to the site, so that advertisers and sites know about your interests in gaming, puppies, a football club, or knitting. Even worse, since any FLoC is made up of thousands of users only, it provides fingerprinting techniques with additional information. While FLoC data is changing over time, it is opening an entirely new can of worms.
Any browser that uses Chromium as its source will support FLoC unless it is disabled or removed from it by the browser maker. Vivaldi, which is based on Chromium, is no exception to that, but Vivaldi has a clear message in this regard:
The FLoC experiment does not work in Vivaldi. It relies on some hidden settings that are not enabled in Vivaldi.
We will not support the FLoC API and plan to disable it, no matter how it is implemented. It does not protect privacy and it certainly is not beneficial to users, to unwittingly give away their privacy for the financial gain of Google.
In short: Vivaldi does not support FLoC right now, and it will disable FLoC if it is enabled in Chromium. Other tracking and profiling techniques, even those in disguise, will never find their way either into the browser according to Vivaldi CEO Jon von Tetzchner.
Vivaldi and Brave won’t include FLoC in their browsers; it seems unlikely that FLoC will play a huge role outside of Google Chrome.