GitHub adds HTTP header to block Google's FLoC

Image of GitHub logo

GitHub has decided to join the list of companies that are opposing Google's upcoming changes. Earlier this year, Google announced it will stop tracking individuals via ads and will implement a new system called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC).

However, the introduction of FLoC did not go the way Google had planned. Earlier this month, privacy focused search engine DuckDuckGo announced an update for its Privacy Essentials extension to block FLoC. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), on the other hand, published an article outlining how FLoC is a terrible idea. This was followed by Vivaldi and Brave, both announcing that they will not enable FLoC on their respective web browsers. Last week, WordPress decided to join as it proposed to treat FLoC as a "security threat".

Now, GitHub has announced that it will block FLoC too. The company published an article confirming its intention to add a HTTP header to block FLoC on the platform. Today, Bleeping Computer noticed that both github.com and github.io return "Permissions-Policy: interest-cohort=()" header. As outlinted in FLoC documentation, companies can use this header to block FLoC on their respective websites. Interestingly, GitHub did not mention anything about FLoC or its reason to oppose the change.

Screenshot of GitHub using HTTP header to block FLoC

In case you don't know, FLoC will allow Google to assign users to a cohort based on their online activities, thereby preserving anonymity while also serving them targeted advertisements. However, as EFF noted in their article, FLoC will most likely result in employment, housing and other types of discrimination.

Currently, FLoC is rolled out to a subset of users in Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, and the U.S. Users can go to AmIFloced.org to check if they are included in FLoC experimentation´╗┐.

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