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Google delays removal of cookies in Chrome after poor response to FLoC

Google says it will delay replacing cookies "to move at a responsible pace." It's easy to read between the lines there.

Published onJune 24, 2021

Chrome icon on smartphone 1
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
  • Google’s FLoC protocol rollout has been delayed until 2022-2023.
  • Google intends for FLoC to replace cookies in Chrome. However, the response to FLoC so far has not been good.
  • The company says it is delaying the rollout “to move at a responsible pace.”

In early 2020, Google made a big announcement: it planned to kill cookies in Chrome. The result of this change would mean Google would no longer track individual users’ browsing habits. Great news, right?

Obviously, Google still needs to track people so it can use that data to sell ads. Its solution to this conundrum is Google’s FLoC protocol, which stands for “Federated Learning of Cohorts.” Instead of tracking individual users, FLoC tracks groups of like-minded users which creates similar datasets but with more privacy for individuals.

Related: What is Google FLoC? Google’s new ad tracking plans explained.

Unfortunately, the tech (and advertising) industry didn’t receive FLoC well. Numerous major tech groups, including WordPress, GitHub, DuckDuckGo, and Brave all lambasted FLoC and Google’s ambitious plans to roll it out quickly. Likewise, antitrust groups in the United States and Europe expressed concern.

In response, Google today announced that it will slow its roll a bit and delay the FLoC changeover in the Chrome browser (via 9to5Google). Google said it made this decision “to move at a responsible pace” and allow enough time to determine “the right solutions” for various problems with browser cookies.

Now, Google FLoC won’t start to land in the Chrome browser until at least 2022. Even then, it will roll out very slowly with a projected end date in late 2023. Google hopes this will allow advertisers and tech businesses to get used FLoC before it becomes the new normal.

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