FloC, Google's alternative to cookies in agony: WordPress announces its blocking

WordPress has made the decision to block FLoC, Google's proprietary alternative to replacing cookies, a project that seems to have been born dead.

FLoC, Google's alternative to third-party cookies continues to generate headlines and continues to create controversy. Now WordPress, the world's most used content generator, has announced that it will block it, considering it a security threat.

FLOC (Federated Learning of Cohorts) is a new mechanism tracking Google with which aims to maintain the possibility of collecting data related to browsing activities of users but ensuring their right to privacy. The company considers it an alternative to cookies since they can be designed to micro-segment and track individual users.

With FLoC it would be possible to serve, for example, targeted advertising based on interests, demographics, or browsing history, but without the need to reveal people's identities. The problem is that it is a proprietary technology of and for Google, not necessarily for third parties.

Google FloC: Widespread Rejection

The idea has been met with a lot of criticism by some of the leaders in user privacy issues. The EFF considers this a terrible idea since Google is using its users without their knowledge.

They also claim that getting individual tracking through FLoC is easier than Google would have us believe. They also explain that from the analysis of patterns of browsing behavior - which can be obtained through the technology proposed by Google - it can be micro-segmented until it is done at an individual level.

In addition, 0.5% of all Chrome browsers have FLoC active, but the company did not issue notice or notification to its users. It is intended to increase the test to 5% of the browser installation base.

It has also been criticized by its competitors, DuckDuckGo, Vivaldi, and Brave have already announced that they will block it or explain to users how to disable it.

It's WordPress turn

WordPress has joined the protest and has notified that they will block FLoC tracking on their own installations as well as on installations hosted within WordPress.com. It will be made from version 5.8 that is expected to be released in July 2021.

The platform is also considering adding the code for blocking FLoC in previous versions, in such a way that it takes effect although, even on those websites that do not update yet.

It is a significant announcement since 41% of the total web works on WordPress, so it would be a huge blow to Google's initiative to replace cookies, which seems to have been born dead.

According to those responsible, the reason for the block is the lack of information and transparency by Google towards its users. A WordPress is concerned that content creators choose tracking using floc without understanding all the implications. In the future, they would add a setting for administrators to decide whether or not this new type of tracking is allowed.

For developers who want to block FLoC and not wait for the WordPress 5.8 update to arrive in July, two plugins have already been released that do exactly that.

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