Advertising and browser company Google is currently testing a new tracking method called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC). It groups you based on your interests and demographics, derived from your browsing history, to enable creepy advertising and other content targeting without third-party cookies.
Until now there was no way to opt-out of the tracking test without disabling 3rd party cookies, but it seems Google is finally giving users the option. The only issue is that they are not making it very easy.
The latest Chrome Canary has the option to disable FLoC grouping, but the feature is currently hidden behind a flag.
To make the disable toggle available you ironically first have to enable FLoC tracking by ground to chrome://flags/#privacy-sandbox-settings-2 and enabling the option.
After you restart your browser you can go to chrome://settings/privacySandbox and disable FLoC.
Currently tens of millions of people around the world are unknowingly part of the FloC trail, with Google planning to expand the test to hundreds of millions of users. The Electronic Frontier Foundation are not a huge fan of FLoC, saying it can be used to fingerprint people more easily and then target them in other ways and have set up a website called AmILFLoCed.org that will inform users if they are part of Google’s trial.
The page notes:
Google is running a Chrome “origin trial” to test out an experimental new tracking feature called Federated Learning of Cohorts (aka “FLoC”). According to Google, the trial currently affects 0.5% of users in selected regions, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, and the United States. This page will try to detect whether you’ve been made a guinea pig in Google’s ad-tech experiment.
Besides disabling FloC, another alternative is to use a different browser such as Edge which currently has FLoC disabled from the start.