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DuckDuckGo updates extension to block Google's FLoC tracking

A simplified representation of Google&039s FLoC

DuckDuckGo, the privacy search engine, has updated its DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials extension for Chrome to block Google’s new tracking method FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts). The update to the DuckDuckGo add-on comes after Google began a FLoC trial which opted Chrome users in without the option to opt-out unless they turned off third-party cookies which would break some websites.

The new FLoC blocking feature comes included with version 2021.4.8 of the DuckDuckGo extension. The privacy-friendly search provider has said that the extension is still waiting for Google’s approval of the updated add-on but that it should be given soon. If you have the DuckDuckGo extension already installed, it will automatically update, otherwise, you can install it from the Chrome Web Store.

Commenting on FLoC and the updated Chrome add-on, DuckDuckGo and founder Gabriel Weinberg said:

“FLoC is simply not good for privacy. It does behavioral tracking by default, and there is no such thing as a behavioral tracking mechanism imposed without consent that respects people’s privacy. That’s why if Google insists on moving forward with FLoC, they should make it explicitly opt-in for all users (free of dark patterns). In the meantime we are offering users the ability to opt-out through our DuckDuckGo Chrome extension that has one single purpose: to provide holistic privacy protection in Chrome. It’s privacy, simplified.”

With third-party cookies increasingly coming under fire for their use in online advertising, Google is looking to use people’s browsing history to sort people into cohorts. Advertisers can then show their ads to the relevant cohorts. While the system is supposed to boost users’ privacy, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has already outlined how FLoC is not all it’s cracked up to be on the privacy front.

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