Internet users are rapidly demanding a more anonymous surfing experience, which has significant implications for advertising, eCommerce, and the overall online economy.
It’s more difficult to make money if a corporation can’t track you via third-party cookies. Google is experimenting with Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), a new cookie-replacing technology that, according to Google, will let web businesses maintain user privacy and current economic models.
The technique is described in detail by Google here, but the gist is that each user will be assigned a unique FLoC ID.
Although your ID is technically anonymous, you will be paired with other users who have similar internet histories (your “cohorts”). Rather than selling an individual’s data to advertising, corporations like Google will sell cohort data.
But, as we’ve already explained, while “private” on paper, this isn’t totally accurate. In reality, FLoC is likely to be just as intrusive as third-party cookies, if not more so. Someone could be recognised, among other major problems, depending on the size of a cohort and the number of cohorts a person belongs to in the database.
The good news is that FLoC will only be available in Chrome-no other browser, including Chromium-based browsers like Brave, Edge, or Vivaldi, will support it. It is also not yet ready for wide-scale application. In truth, Google has postponed the release of FLoC for Chrome. However, it’s still in the early stages of development, and it may already be installed on your browser as a new feature dubbed “Privacy Sandbox.”
To be fair, the Privacy Sandbox test enrols less than 1% of Chrome users, but the test may increase in the future, and it’s possible you’re engaged in this new form of surveillance without ever recognising it.
Fortunately, it’s simple to see if Privacy Sandbox is turned on, and if it is, you may disable it or opt out.
What is a Browser Sandbox, and how does it work?
A sandbox allows your children to play in the sand without the sand strewn across your lawn. Because the sand is contained within a box with high walls, this is the case. The same thing happens with computer sandboxes.
When you want to test a new programme or something else without affecting the rest of your computer, you may use the Windows 10 Sandbox feature or third-party applications to create a sandbox. You may then install your programme in the sandbox and test it without fear of damaging your PC.
The majority of browsers already contain a sandbox to help secure your PC. Browser sandboxes are designed to safeguard your machine from the negative impacts of browsing. Even the most well-designed websites may contain dangerous malware without their knowledge. As a result, if a website downloads dangerous malware, the code is downloaded to the computer’s sandbox. When the sandbox is closed, everything inside, even harmful code, is wiped.
Firefox executes untrusted programmes in a sandbox to keep the machine safe in the event of a malicious attack. Firefox is split into two parts: the parent process and the child processes. Untrusted processes are run in the Firefox sandbox while you’re browsing the web. This aids in the containment of contamination, if any exists. The parent component works as a mediator between the child process and the rest of the computer resources when the child processes are running in Sandbox.
Firefox users can adjust the sandboxing level to make it tougher or more lenient. Firefox is least restrictive at level 0, balanced and current at level 2, and highly restricted at level 3. Type ‘about:config’ in the address bar and press the Enter key to check which level Firefox is on.
On the page, it will load the Firefox configurable variables. After that, hit CTRL+F after placing the cursor anywhere in the settings page. Enter the following code in the Find box and click Enter:’security.sandbox.content.level’.
The current level of sandboxing employed by Firefox is the value returned by the function.
Chromium Browser Sandbox
The browsers Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome both use Chromium. Basically, their sandbox operates the same way as the one described in the Firefox section.
The broker process and the target process are the two parts. The broker process is the browser, and the target processes are the child processes. The sandbox contains all of the target processes’ code. The broker process, on the other hand, functions as a link between the child process and other computer resources, supplying the child processes with the resources they require.
Windows Sandbox can be used to run Microsoft Edge in Windows 10 Pro and higher editions.
How can I disable the Google Chrome Sandbox?
Right-click on the Google Chrome Sandbox icon to turn it off. In the dialogue box that appears, choose Properties and then the Shortcut tab.
To the app path provided in the Target, add the following:
When you click the Chrome icon from now on, Chrome will open without a sandbox.
Sandboxing with Microsoft Edge
When you launch the Windows 10 Sandbox, you’ll be presented with a fresh desktop that has simply the Recycle Bin and Edge shortcuts. It displays the Start Menu and other icons, but they aren’t functional in this sandboxed environment. Instead of the sandboxed Windows 10, you can open them on the normal Windows 10.
You may use this sandboxed Windows 10 environment to launch Edge for secure browsing. No one can track what you did on the Internet when you close the sandbox after working on Edge for a long. Your ISP may keep track of what you do, but no one can verify the actions you do in the sandbox using Edge.
If a website downloads malware to your system, the malware will vanish when the sandbox is closed, just like regular data.
- Using a sandboxed environment for browsers does not guarantee security. Some parts of the browser may extend outside of the sandbox, especially if they still use Flash and ActiveX components. These can be hacked, allowing thieves to gain access to your systems.
- If you don’t want to use Edge and instead use another browser, you can construct a sandbox with third-party tools like Sandboxie. Simply turn on the sandbox software you’re using, and after it’s up and running, you may install the browsers there. Keep in mind that closing the sandbox will remove all of the sandbox’s contents.
How to find and disable the Chrome Privacy Sandbox (FLoC)
Only a small percentage of Android and desktop Chrome users in the India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Australia, Brazil, United States, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines are using Privacy Sandbox. It is not available on iOS devices (yet).
Even so, it’s worth double-checking to determine if the functionality is operational. These instructions apply to Chrome for Android, Windows, Mac, and Linux:
- Go to Settings > Privacy and security > Privacy Sandbox in Chrome.
- Even if you are not enrolled in the Trial, this will bring you to the Privacy Sandbox landing page.
- FLoC is enabled if the “Privacy Sandbox trials” toggle is turned on. Click/tap to turn it off—just don’t turn it on if you don’t want FLoC to work in Chrome.
The “Am I FLoCed?” website, on the other hand, instantly tests for the Privacy Sandbox trial on Chrome. If the test returns a positive result, follow the procedures above to disable FLoC tracking.
You’re not a part of the test if you don’t see the option in Chrome’s settings. That doesn’t rule out the possibility of being added to the Privacy Sandbox trial in the future.