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DuckDuckGo Announces Plans to Block Google’s FLoC

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DuckDuckGo announces plans to block FLoC, Google’s new way of tracking users’ web browsing activity in Chrome.

As Google transitions away from using third-party cookies in Chrome, its developing a new technology called FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts).

Google claims FLoC offers more privacy than third-party cookies because it monitors activity at a group level rather than an individual level.

With FLoC, browsing activity cannot be tied to any individual user. Though it does aim to collect enough data to serve personalized ads.

Privacy pundits like DuckDuckGo take issue with all forms of tracking, even when it’s less invasive.

DuckDuckGo finds it especially concerning that getting tracked via FLoC is not optional – all Chrome users are automatically opted into it.

“We’re disappointed that, despite the many publicly voiced concerns with FLoC that have not yet been addressed, Google is already forcing FLoC upon users without explicitly asking them to opt in. We’re nevertheless committed and will continue to do our part to deliver on our vision of raising the standard of trust online.”

It was a matter of time before DuckDuckGo implemented measures against Google’s new tracking technology.

Google launched FLoC less than two weeks ago, and DuckDuckGo is already planning to block it in the DuckDuckGo search engine and Chrome browser extension.

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Changes to DuckDuckGo Browser Extension

DuckDuckGo is updating its Chrome browser extension with the ability to block FLoC interactions on websites.

The update is not yet available, however, as its pending approval from Google.

Google has to approve updates to Chrome extensions before they go live for users to download. It’s up to Google to grant users the ability to download DuckDuckGo’s Chrome extension update.

DuckDuckGo is confident the update will get approved and become available in version 2021.4.8 (and newer) of its Chrome extension.

The update can be downloaded from the Chrome Web Store when it becomes available.

Changes to DuckDuckGo Search Engine

DuckDuckGo is bringing its FLoC-blocking feature to search results in an update that’s live now.

Users on all devices and all browsers will be opted out of FLoC when they use the DuckDuckGo search engine. This is in line with DuckDuckGo’s overall mission to protect user privacy.

Chrome users will be opted out of FLoC when they use the DuckDuckGo search engine regardless of whether they have the browser extension installed.

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While there’s been no shortage of back and forth between DuckDuckGo and Google over the years, DuckDuckGo aims to block all trackers when people use its search engine. It doesn’t just single out Google.

Final Notes About FLoC

At this time, only the Google Chrome browser supports FLoC as a way of collecting data on users.

Google would like to see FLoC replace third-party cookies on a larger scale, but companies like DuckDuckGo are trying to prevent the technology from gaining momentum.

The growth of FLoC will ultimately depend on the results it delivers for advertisers.

Google says, in testing, FLoC is 95% as effective as third-party cookies. In practice it’s not yet known if those claims hold up.

Other than FLoC, Google has said it will not develop new ways to track users after it phases out third-party cookies.

For more, see the resources below:

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GOOGLE

Google Home App Gets an Overhaul, Rolling Out Soon

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Google Home app

Google refreshes its Home app with a slew of new features after launching a new Nest gear. This makes it faster and easier to pair smart devices with Matter, adds customization and personalization options, an enhanced Nest camera experience, and better intercommunication between devices.

This revamped Home app utilizes Google’s Matter smart home standard – launching later this year – especially the Fast Pair functionality. On an Android phone, it will instantly recognize a Matter device and allow you to easily set it up, bypassing the current procedure that is often slow and difficult. Google is also updating its Nest speakers, displays, and routers – to control Matter devices better.

Google Home App New Features

  • Spaces: This feature allows you to control multiple devices in different rooms. Google has listed a few things by room: kitchen, bedroom, living room, etc., although it’s pretty limited right now. Spaces let you organize devices how you see fit. For instance, you can set up a baby monitor in one room and set a different room’s camera to focus on an area the baby often plays. With Spaces, you can categorize these two devices into one Space category called ‘Baby.’

Google Home app Spaces

  • Favorites: This one is pretty self-explanatory. It allows you to make certain gears as a favorite that you frequently use. Doing so will bring those devices into the limelight within the Google Home app for easier access. 

Google Home app

  • Media: Google adds a new media widget at the bottom of your Home feed. This will automatically determine what media is playing in your home and provide you with the appropriate controls as and when needed. There will be song controls if you listen to music on your speakers. There will be television remote controls if you’re watching TV. 

Google probably won’t roll out this Home app makeover anytime soon. But you can try it for yourself in the coming week by enrolling in the public preview, available in select areas.

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