Google won’t be doing original FLoC testing in Europe due to GDPR issues (at least for now)

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Google won't be doing original FLoC testing in Europe due to GDPR issues (at least for now)


Google will not make FLoC-based cohorts available for testing in countries where GDPR and the ePrivacy Directive are in effect.

In other words, no FLoC in Europe. At least for now.

At a meeting of the Improving Web Advertising Business Group (IWABG) at the World Wide Web Consortium on Tuesday, Michael Kleber, a Google engineer, acknowledged that FLoCs may not be compatible with EU privacy law. private life.

“For European countries, we are not going to activate the original tests [of FLoC] for EEA users [European Economic Area] country, ”Kleber said.

Specifically, Google will not be conducting FLoC testing in Europe due to concerns over which entity will serve as the data controller and who will serve as the data processor in the creation of cohorts.

Kleber seemed pretty definitive in his statement, but, after the meeting, a Marshall Vale follow-up tweet, a Chrome product manager, said, “We are starting this original FLoC trial for users in the US and certain other countries, and we plan to make FLoC available for testing worldwide at a later date. . ”

It is possible that when a web browser places a person in a cohort and associates them with a FLoC ID, this could be considered personal data under the law. And processing personal data to generate cohort assignment without the proper consent could also be a violation.

Since publishers will not provide users with clear notice and choice of how their data will be used to create cohorts, this could be seen as a breach of online privacy which, among other things, regulates the use. online cookies.

The plan was for Chrome to begin original testing of FLoC this month. Origin trials allow developers to safely experience web functionality before more generalized testing. FLoC testing by advertisers in Google Ads is expected to begin in the second quarter.

It’s unclear what the exclusion of EEA countries means for the future of cohort-based advertising – or third-party cookies, for that matter – in Europe or other geographic areas with laws on it. related confidentiality.

“We don’t know if this means ‘Privacy Sandbox’ will be delayed in Europe, including the removal of third-party cookies – Google is expected to provide urgent official clarification,” said James Rosewell, CEO and co-founder of the detection firm. 51Degrees devices and member of IWABG. “It seems Google has focused on engineering and math, but not on the important legal basis of ‘Privacy Sandbox’. This indicates that privacy by design principles have not been applied to “Privacy Sandbox”… I find that ironic. ”

What is clear, however, is that this appears to be the first time anyone outside of Google has heard that Europe will not be included.

Story updated at 6:05 p.m. on 03/23/21 to reflect Marshall Vale’s tweet.



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