Will WordPress treat Google FLoC as a security issue?

There has already been a backlash against Google’s Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), and now WordPress Core may also block it due to viewing it as a cyber security issue.

FLoC was originally designed to be an alternative to conventional advertiser tracking that is executed by placing third-party cookies on the user’s device.

Although it is likely to be rolling out as early as this month, for now WordPress will treat it as a security problem and backport it as a result.

For those who wish to use FLoC, the proposal states they would be allowed to do so by enabling it in the settings section of their WordPress-powered blog.

The reason why backporting is the approach of choice in this regard is due to a significant number of WordPress sites only updating to minor versions.

This way, the effect can be amplified and more visitors can be protected.

What is the root of the problem when it comes to FLoC itself?

For starters, by allowing it, the advertisers would be able to access a summary of the user’s recent browser history – a clear violation of privacy.

Although third-party cookies can make an attempt to do the same, they were never guaranteed to succeed.

According to Vivaldi, a Chromium-based browser maker, sharing new information with advertisers lies at the core of FLoC and its design.

For instance, a visitor may decide to browse a website dedicated to a highly personal subject or topic.

That alone is enough to assign them a FLoC ID, which indicates their interest in these kinds of websites to third-party advertisers.

Vivaldi warns that this could be dangerous for individuals who live in an environment where such personal information could be used against them – for instance, religious beliefs, political views or sexuality.

Indeed, this is no longer about privacy – it has the potential to become a personal safety issue.