DuckDuckGo rallies users against Google’s latest replacement for cookies

The privacy advocate urges Chrome users to block the Topics and FLEDGE APIs

The way big businesses make money on the internet, by and large, is to track your activity across the web with cookies and sell ads against that information. Google has been looking for something better than cookies to enable that tracking — the company hasn’t found it yet. Privacy advocates, though, would really like to see the search giant just give up. Short of that, competitor DuckDuckGo looks to empower users with its updated tracker blocker.

in its Spread Privacy blogDuckDuckGo is urging Google Chrome users to block Google’s latest experimental tracking APIs, Topics and FLEDGE† The former is meant to gather information about the user by associating certain topics from the sites they visit and the searches they make, then determine an ad to sell them. The latter would facilitate “remarketing” or continuous, personal ad campaigns. Both come out of Google’s Privacy Sandbox initiative


Users are told to head into Chrome’s settings, look at the Privacy and security section for Privacy Sandbox toggles and then make sure they’ve unchecked the box for Privacy Sandbox trials. alternatively, DuckDuckGo is promoting its Chrome extension which blocks both Topics and FLEDGE.

In its opposition, the company says nothing prevents third-party trackers on websites from utilizing Topics and that other “fingerprints” to create more detailed profiles of their targets and that some of the potential topics could be particularly sensitive to certain users. DuckDuckGo is also flat-out against the concept of re-targeting ads.

Google describes Topics as a tracking method that features enough obfuscation to prevent individuals from being profiled and that it is working with stakeholders to determine which topics would be too sensitive to include in the API.

Privacy-focused groups were also up in arms last year against Google’s first try at a cookie replacement called FLoC over many of the same concerns.

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