DuckDuckGo, a privacy-focused browser in Android, has just launched its anti-tracking tool and it is phenomenal. DuckDuckGo has introduced the “App Tracking Protection” feature with its latest open beta release, which all Android smartphone users can take the advantage of. As the name suggests, this feature allows the users to prevent third-party trackers from all the installed applications to track their activity. DuckDuckGo is popular among Android users who want to protect their privacy, and this feature will be extremely welcomed in this community. It is said that the feature is even better than iOS’s tracking protection.
DuckDuckGo is a privately owned web browser that runs on a similar business model to that of Google, through its search engine. DuckDuckGo generates revenue through advertising and affiliate marketing. DuckDuckGo advertises based on what keyword is entered into the search bar and not based on the user’s usage data. This is how it manages user privacy as Google uses user data to show them targeted advertisements. Affiliate marketing, on the other hand, includes revenue generated from affiliate programs of e-commerce sites such as Amazon and eBay. DuckDuckGo promises to track zero consumer usage which also applies to the sites which its users visit during their surfing session.
Extending this vision further, the App Tracking Protection feature targets, not just the loaded sites but also the entire Android operating system. It prevents third-party trackers throughout the OS and installed apps, which come pre-embedded with such activity trackers. The third-party tracking scripts of various apps continuously track various user information such as which apps they have installed, which sites they visit, for how long they use certain apps, what kind of products they search for the most, and many more. This data is extremely personal and should not be accessed by anyone, but third-party trackers enable many applications to access it and provide it to companies that publish targeted ads. Google is one of the leading companies which generate revenue through targeted advertising. Google uses user data generated from Google Chrome and other Google applications which come pre-installed in Android OS. Hence, people who are conscious about their privacy use alternatives such as DuckDuckGo.
DuckDuckGo stated in their announcement that the latest open beta of DuckDuckGo’s Android application will provide this feature without any cost and will allow the users to completely block any third-party tracking throughout the operating system. Users will be able to see which application was tracking them and which trackers it was using to track their behavior. It will also allow the users to see exactly the type of user data a particular app is collecting or has collected in the past. DuckDuckGo has stated that this feature is similar to the tracking protection offered by Apple on the iPhone. The only difference is that the tracking in iPhone is based on the app developers' compliance with user choice, and such is not the case in DuckDuckGo’s app tracking protection. However, it will be interesting to see how this feature will perform in daily use and how it will protect Android smartphone users from third-party activity trackers.