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WordPress proposes disabling Google’s FLoC in future release

WordPress privacy team has proposed that Google’s FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts) be treated as a “security concern” and their plans to disable the tracking tech automatically on WordPress sites.

DuckDuckGo, Brave and Vivaldi have already announced that they’ll be blocking FLoC, and WordPress joins the rest with this proposal.

“WordPress powers approximately 41% of the web – and this community can help combat racism, sexism, anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination and discrimination against those with mental illness with four lines of code,” WordPress announced.

As per the announcement, the following four lines of code will be used to disable FLoC.

function disable_floc($headers) {
    $headers['Permissions-Policy'] = 'interest-cohort=()';
    return $headers;
  }
 
add_filter('wp_headers', 'disable_floc');

Google’s FLoC is built to replace third-party cookies, which among other things are primarily used by advertiser networks to keep a track of users across the internet and show them targeted ads. While on the first look that sounds great for privacy enthusiasts, on the flip side, advertisers will be able to target people in ‘cohorts’ based on a variety of parameters including location and age. Moreover, Google rolled out FLoC and enabled the feature by default for millions of unsuspecting users, which drew the ire of anyone concerned with their privacy online.

Brave disables Google’s FLoC citing privacy concerns

While WordPress announced their next major release, version 5.8, is in the works, and the stable release is scheduled for July 20, 2021, they’re considering releasing a security patch to disable FLoC as the tracking tech rolls out next month.

Backporting to an earlier WordPress version is also on the cards.

“While it is indeed unusual to treat a new “feature” this way, there is precedent in that something that was not strictly a security vulnerability in comments was back-ported to previous versions for the good of the community as a whole,” the announcement explains further.

Any website owners who don’t want to disable FLoC can override the proposed filter in the core.

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