Threatened by the disappearance of third-party cookies, which can now be more easily refused and blocked, some, such as the monopolistic American search engines, are circumventing what they consider to be a problem: your freedom of choice and the protection of your privacy. Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) is a new way of mining browsing data using artificial intelligence to study the behaviour of cohorts of users in a federated way.

In fact, this technology places an Internet user in a group of people who share his/her habits and interests. Instead of studying the individual behaviour of the person and serving them ads that match his/her profile, FLoC technology looks at the behaviour of a group of people who are similar, and matches the corresponding attributes, providing websites with a cohort ID. The more cohort IDs there are that contain few different people, the more accurate the targeting.

Why is Floc a step backwards for privacy?

FLoC was made possible by two things:

  • The obsession to continue tracking and targeting users online.
  • The ability to tap into a large enough pools of profiles to accurately extract groups with similar behaviours.

While more and more Internet users are worried about the use of their personal data online, the American giant's intentions are very clear: the company wants to continue collecting data and targeting advertising. The collective nature of the analysis does not change much: it will be easy to transcribe the ID of the Internet user to know their cohort, and to deduce the attributes assigned to them. Visiting certain sites, being interested in certain articles, buying certain products etc. The objective is clear: to narrow the profile as much as possible. Moreover, the ID that reveals elements of your personality is sent to all the sites that request it, without you even having to give your permission.

Controlling the elements of targeting by categorizing a very large number of users, is a way for the American giant to increase its monopoly everywhere: the information obtained by a technology like FLoC will only be relevant if it comes from a particularly large sample. This will make it much more difficult for competitors to defend a difference and regulate market prices. The new technology has already attracted the attention of some antitrust regulators in the US.

False debate and real search engine

Internet users are now asking which tracking method is the least intrusive between cookies and FLoC? This is actually a no choice, we don't have to choose between two bad solutions. It is tracking as a whole that we must reject because it aims to influence our decisions.

The alternative is of course to find services that you like and which respect your fundamental rights, your privacy and your freedom of thought. This starts with the search engine you use.

Qwant is built on these very principles, and has proven that an ethical and tracking-free Internet is possible. Now, remains to convince advertisers that ethical advertising is possible, and that it works. Advertisers keep the Internet free to use, and provide the means to fund wages? and infrastructure, such as servers

Beyond the question of the advertising model, this raises big questions about the model of society, individual freedom and democracy. In particular, the question of whether one still wants an internet based on profiling internet users, thus depriving them of the possibility of having a holistic and neutral view of the web. Through "personalization" or affiliation to a group, based on previous browsing, the individual is imposed content which is supposed to correspond to his or her interests, depriving them of the possibility of discovering other points of view. In other words they are deprived of the ability, to form an informed opinion and to form convictions.

Today, hundreds of companies have taken up the issue of privacy and trust Qwant for their online campaigns. They can benefit from an experience with no tracking, and can reach a new target of engaged consumers, those who are so much in the news. And it is these virtuous consumers that Qwant is now targeting.

Your private life must remain completely private. Your freedom of thought can only be absolute. Whether it is through cookies or FLoC, your data shouldn't be used to pre-format the web you access every day and content suggestions should not lock you in.

Worry not, it is not too late. Join us For a tracking-free web and a free internet,. At Qwant, no cookies and no FloC!

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