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DuckDuckGo Chrome Extension Can Now Block Google Topics & FLEDGE

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DuckDuckGo has released an update for its Chrome extension that allows users to block Google Topics and FLEDGE as Google’s latest inventions for ad targeting. With the new update to DuckDuckGo’s Chrome extension, users can also disable the “Privacy Sandbox” setting in Chrome.

The contradictions between Google and DuckDuckGo have now reached a whole new level. As Google tries to add new ad targeting methods, the privacy-focused browser DuckDuckGo rises to confront them. The latest update for DuckDuckGo’s Chrome extension blocks Topics and FLEDGE to prevent Google from targeting users with ads.

Topics and FLEDGE are a part of Google Privacy Sandbox. The Privacy Sandbox itself is said to be a more privacy-focused replacement for tracking and targeting users by Google. However, even being more privacy-focused doesn’t mean you’re not tracked and targeted by Google online ads at all.

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“While some suggest that Topics is a less invasive way of ad targeting, we don’t agree. Why not? Fundamentally it’s because, by default, Google Chrome will still be automatically surveilling your online activity and sharing information about you with advertisers and other parties so they can behaviorally target you without your consent,” DuckDuckGo said in its blog post.

Google’s new ad targeting methods claim to be less invasive

Google introduced Topics as an alternative to the FLoC method. The main benefit of Topics is it offers five of your interests based on search activities. However, no matter how much Google tries to change it according to users’ interests, it is still a way to track them.

Google’s FLEDGE (First Locally-Executed Decision over Groups Experiment) is also a new method. Google says it uses FLEDGE for ad retargeting, and it relies on the personal identifier about users.

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Google has promised to ditch third-party cookies in the Chrome browser by 2023, and FLEDGE is invented for this purpose. Instead of third-party cookies, the FLEDGE “moves Google ad technology directly into the Chrome browser.” Google has said it welcomes any feedback for improving the Privacy Sandbox.

However, even FLEDGE failed to get DuckDuckGo positive feedback, and DuckDuckGo still looks at it with pessimism.

“When you visit a website where the advertiser may want to later follow you with an ad, the advertiser can tell your Chrome browser to put you into an interest group. Then, when you visit another website which displays ads, your Chrome browser will run an ad auction based on your interest groups and target specific ads at you. So much for your browser working for you!” DuckDuckGo’s product director Peter Dolanjski noted.

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