Episode 75

Let's Talk About FLoC Blocking


June 25th, 2021

1 hr 2 mins 3 secs

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About this Episode

Katherine Druckman and Doc Searls talk to Drupal Association Community Liaison, Rachel Lawson, and Drupal developer, Tony Savorelli, about Privacy in Drupal and beyond, and protecting ourselves and others on the web.

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Episode Links

  • Add Permissions-Policy header to block Google FLoC [#3209628] | Drupal.org — Google is introducing what it calls Federated Learning of Cohorts, which is a way to gather user data without cookies, regardless of whether a website is loading any Google-related trackers. This is enabled starting in Chrome 89, and only in select countries on a trial basis. Although other major browser vendors are likely against this technology and will presumably not be implementing it, given Chrome’s market share this will become a concerning issue, because it largely remove users’ ability to easily opt out of being tracked—particularly true in the case of less-savvy users. See a very informative post by Plausible. Since no one can reasonably expect users to just stop using Chrome, it will be up to responsible developers to block FLoC at the source.
  • Amazon is blocking Google's FLoC — and that could seriously weaken the system — Amazon is blocking Google’s controversial cookieless tracking and targeting method.
  • Privacy analysis of FLoC — In the current web, trackers (and hence advertisers) associate a cookie with each user. Whenever a user visits a website that has an embedded tracker, the tracker gets the cookie and can thus build up a list of the sites that a user visits. Advertisers can use the information gained from tracking browsing history to target ads that are potentially relevant to a given user’s interests. The obvious problem here is that it involves advertisers learning everywhere you go. 
  • Surveillance Self-Defense | Tips, Tools and How-tos for Safer Online Communications — We’re the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an independent non-profit working to protect online privacy for nearly thirty years. This is Surveillance Self-Defense : our expert guide to protecting you and your friends from online spying.
  • University of Pennsylvania ScholarlyCommons — The Tradeoff Fallacy - How Marketers Are Misrepresenting American Consumers and Opening Them up to Exploitation
  • Reality 2.0 - Blog - Reality 2.0 Newsletter - June 4, 2021: More Tracking Tech and Apple — After a lengthy discussion in Drupal’s core issue queue by some of Katherine’s favorite people, the upcoming release of Drupal 9.2 will officially block Google’s Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) by default! Similarly, the WordPress and Joomla communities are taking similar measures. With these platforms representing a huge chunk of websites, this must be quite a blow to Google, enough so that a member of Google Chrome’s developer relations team weighed in on the Drupal issue himself. I hope this news inspires you to run off and build a Drupal site, so I’ll just leave this documentation link here just in case.

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