GitHub is blocking all its pages to Google FLoC

A few weeks ago we shared here on the blog about the new bet by Google to address tracking using third-party cookies, in which Google has introduced a new ad tracking technology called federated cohort learning (or FLoC) that uses a web browser to anonymously place users in categories of interest or behavior based on how they navigate the web.

Google FLoC is a new technology intended to replace third-party cookie tracking traditional used by ad networks and analytics platforms to track users on the web. The FLoC, focused on respect for privacy according to Google, aims to replace tracking technologies such as third-party cookies and localStorage with so-called “cohorts”.

Unlike servers (or ad networks) that track users on the web and record their browsing history, FLoC places this responsibility on each user’s web browser. Google said it wants Internet browsing to be less intrusive, but it also wants to continue making money from online advertising. In a blog post published in late March, Google explained:

“FLoC does not share your browsing history with Google or anyone else.” “This is different from third-party cookies, which allow companies to individually track you across different sites,” he added. “FLoC works on your device without your browsing history being shared. Importantly, everyone in the ad ecosystem, including Google’s ad products, will have the same access to FloC. “

But while Google is testing its new technology, opposition to FloC is growing In Internet. The last resistance is from GitHub, which announced the deployment of a mysterious HTTP header on all the websites of the GitHub pages.

Since as many of you will know, GitHub offers a free feature called “GitHub Pages”, which allows users to publish a website from a GitHub project.

And now through a header, which is now returned by GitHub websites (which is actually meant for website owners) to them allow you to opt out of tracking by Google FloC. The entire domain github.com would have this heading, indicating that GitHub does not want its visitors to be included in Google FLoC “cohorts” when they visit a GitHub page.

GitHub released their opinion on this topic, which in their words is quite succinct and Google FLoC is nowhere mentioned:

“All GitHub page sites served from the github.io domain will now have a Permissions-Policy: interest-cohort = () header.” “Pages sites using a custom domain will not be affected,” concludes the GitHub blog post. In fact, it is possible to use your own domain name, instead of the “user.github.io/project-name” produced by GitHub.

For now, during “Proof of Origin”, FLoC is expected to be rolled out to a “small percentage of users” in Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines and the United States. According to Google, users can verify if their web browser has been selected to be part of the FLoC pilot experiment by following the instructions provided on the EFF site AmIFloced.org.

The number of web companies resisting Floc is gradually increasing. But according to one commenter, it’s just a few of the top 100 sites “that have dedicated engineering teams and policy teams that will turn off FLoC because they’re not interested in ads (Wikipedia) or because they have their own” that FLoC doesn’t need ( Facebook) will leave FloC ”.

“As for the remaining millions of people, only a small minority of them will know it exists, not to mention the fact that they are interested enough to make the change or contact a developer capable of doing so,” he adds.

“So the bottom line is that github.com, instagram.com, and amazon.com can opt out, but the vast majority of the web won’t. I predict that at least half of all web pages that users load will not have this header, “he concluded.

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