In a recent blog post discussing Google’s new tracking method called FLoC, DuckDuckGo suggested using its extensions to prevent the search giant from keeping track of every move you make.
According to them, FLoC is bad for privacy and we tend to agree as it lets Google put you in a group based on your browsing history, and any website can get that group FLoC ID to target and fingerprint you.
What FLoC is all about?
FLoC, which is short for Federated Learning of Cohorts, is Google’s new tracking method that groups users based on their interests and demographics, derived from their browsing history, to enable advertising and other content targeting without third-party cookies. After a short trial period, Google decided not to make this new tracking method a user choice and instead started automatically including millions in the scheme.
If you’re reading this in the Chrome browser while logged in to a Google account, that likely means you too, and if not now, then eventually.
FLoC is Google’s approach for replacing cookies; it’s being developed in the open and is claimed by Google to be good for privacy. However, it has received widespread criticism from privacy experts, including from EFF who say it’s a “terrible idea” and implored Google “please don’t do this.”
While Google is already maintaining detailed profiles of users, built up over time from what they’ve learned about users – with FLoC they’re now exposing your derived interests and demographics from this profile to the websites you visit via FLoC IDs. In other words, they get to learn what you like and what you don’t like — it’s like you were posting it on Facebook.
How can you prevent Google from tracking you?
There are a few methods for blocking FLoC:
- Don’t use Google Chrome but some other browser. If you’re into Chrome extensions, you can use some other browser that is based on Chromium. Even Microsoft’s EDGE is better and it will work with all Chrome extensions. Or you can use something like Brave or Firefox.
- Install the DuckDuckGo Chrome extension on Chrome if you must use Google’s browser. This is the case if you’re using a Chromebook; then, DuckDuckGo’s extension will help you preserve your privacy, which we take to be a human right of everyone. You can also get the same extension for a few other browsers.
- Change your Chrome and/or Google settings — again if you have to keep using Chrome. You can do the following to hide your activity from the search giant:
- Stay logged out of your Google account;
- Don’t sync your history data with Chrome, or create a sync passphrase;
- In Google Activity Controls, disable “Web & App Activity” or “Include Chrome history and activity from sites, apps, and devices that use Google services;”
- In Google Ad Settings disable “Ad Personalization” or “Also use your activity & information from Google services to personalize ads on websites and apps that partner with Google to show ads.”
Even with all those settings tweaked, you should still get DuckDuckGo’s Chrome extension which will get you what the company calls the “holistic privacy protection” when using Chrome. By that, they mean you’ll get private search, tracker blocking, Smarter Encryption, and Global Privacy Control.
Use a VPN for extra protection
Even with DuckDuckGo’s great extension, Google may be able to track you down by your IP address. Not if you’re using a VPN when you will be assigned a different IP address every time you log in — or not if you opt for the dedicated IP address which may be needed for your business.
Then, you can just change servers from time to time so that the entire online world sees that you’re in a different place than you were just a moment ago. This will confuse them and they won’t be able to track you down. And that’s the point.
To get started, hop over to our page with Best of the Best VPNs and take it from there. In just a few minutes, you will be browsing the world wide web without anyone knowing which sites you’ve visited. Also, you will be able to access parts of the Internet that could otherwise be outside of your reach.
So what are you waiting for? Find the best VPN for yourself today and thank us later. 😉