In a move to show its open criticism of Google FLoC, the EFF has developed the ‘Am I FLoCed?’ tool to check Google FLoC tracking. For the uninitiated, Google FLoC is Google’s answer to replace third-party cookies on Chrome.
Since its introduction last month, FLoC has taken the flak for not being privacy-friendly. Just a day before writing this, I wrote about the DuckDuck Go guide to avoiding Google FLoC. In that guide, DuckDuckGo mentioned several steps to stay away from FLoC. The most radical approach in the guide was to stop using Google Chrome. The EFF ‘Am I FLoCed?’ tool compliments that guide and tells you if you’re being tracked.
Is Google FLoC Tracking You?
Google FLoC went live with the ‘origin testing’ on March 30. This means FLoC is tracking some of us to flex its real-world cohorting caliber (if that’s even a word). The basic problem with Google FLoC is the same thing that has been wrong with every Google service ever. The company just brings out something and before you know it, you’ve signed up for it.
Surely you can opt out of certain things, but that too doesn’t always work. For instance, Chrome is now getting equipped with FLoC, a tool that will categorize you in cohorts to show personalized ads. At best, it is a less intrusive approach compared to cookies. At worst, it just gives Google and others a free hand to identify you more easily on the internet.
Long story short, Google FLoC is currently affecting 0.5% of users in regions like Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, and the United States. That’s why EFF has developed the ‘Am I FLoCed’ tool for you to check if Google FLoC is tracking you.
How To Use ‘Am I FloCed?’
So now that we’ve established some context here, let’s know how to use the tool. To use the ‘Am I FLoCed’ tool, go to the website and tap on ‘CHECK FOR FLOC ID.’ The tool will let you know if you’re being tracked by Google FLoC.
Your FLoC ID is what lets Google group you into cohorts using your browsing history. According to EFF, disabling third-party cookies is the only way to stop FLoC tracking on Chrome for now. Another way is to switch to a different browser.
Google FLoC tracking is just an advanced form of tracking to replace cookies. Third-party cookies needed to go because they were intrusive. The fresh approach should be to let users decide whether they want to be tracked. Creating a replacement mechanism for tracking isn’t the solution but just another problem in itself.