Google has announced that it will be pulling the plug on Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) and replacing it with Topics— a new Privacy Sandbox proposal for interest-based advertising, as per a blog post by Vinay Goel, Product Director, Privacy Sandbox, Chrome. “Topics was informed by our learning and widespread community feedback from our earlier FLoC trials, and replaces our FLoC proposal,” the blog read. Google began working on FLoC as an alternative to third-party cookies which the Chrome browser will be phasing out by 2023. The company said that it will be launching a developer trial of Topics in Chrome soon for website developers and the ads industry that includes user controls. “The final design of the user controls and the other various technical aspects of how Topics works will be decided based on your feedback and what we learn in the trial,” Goel said. Consumer expectations around privacy have undergone a dramatic change in recent years as people become wary of big tech’s intrusion into their lives. Cookie-based marketing has become a multi-billion dollar industry and Google’s announcements are likely to impact them significantly. Understanding Topics Goel wrote that a user’s browser will determine a handful of topics that represent their top interests for the week as reflected by their browser history under Topics. For example, it will devise categories like “fitness” or “travel & Transportation,” and keep them for only three weeks following which they will be deleted. “Topics are selected entirely on your device without involving any external…
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