Google is replacing Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) with a new interest-based targeting proposal called Topics, the company announced Tuesday.
The Topics API works by pinpointing five of your interests, such as “Fitness” or “Travel & Transportation,” based on your web activity, as measured by participating sites, for one week. The browser will store these topics for three weeks before deleting them.
Google says that these categories “are selected entirely on your device” and don’t involve “any external servers, including Google servers.”
When you visit a website, Topics will show the site and its advertising partners just three of your interests, consisting of “one topic from each of the past three weeks.”
The company asserted that Topics won’t include any “sensitive categories” like race or gender. If you’re using Chrome, the company is building tools to let you view and delete topics, as well as turn off the feature.
Moreover, it plans to launch a developer trial for Topics in Chrome, but there’s no information on when exactly that will begin.
“Browsers have traditionally worked only for the users — remember how great it was when they all started blocking pop-up ads?” John Bergmayer, the legal director at Public Knowledge, a nonprofit that promotes an open internet, points out. “Google’s concepts on this topic seem to flip that.”