DuckDuckGo’s New Tool Brings Anti-Tracking Features to Android

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Apple’s two new privacy protections for iPhone and iPad sparked an uproar earlier this year. Facebook fiercely challenged them, launching a massive advertising campaign against Apple. The two privacy features are Application Privacy Labels and Application Tracking Transparency (ATT). The first informs users about the type of data collected by the applications. ATT, meanwhile, requires developers to request permission to track users. Google is only ready to match the functionality of privacy labels when it comes to Android’s privacy. It may be some time before Google brings anti-tracking features to its mobile operating system. But there is already a tool that could help you stop Android apps from tracking you. It’s DuckDuckGo, which has a new feature now available in beta. And if that works, Application Tracking Protection (ATP) could be even better than Apple’s ATT.

Better than Apple?

Apple’s ATT has been very popular with users, with many people refusing to allow iOS apps to track them. A recent study showed that ATT could have resulted in losses of $ 10 billion for social media companies, with Facebook’s bottom line being hit the hardest in the process. With ATT, Apple is preventing businesses from using the Unique Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) feature to track users.

DuckDuckGo Vice President of Communications Kamyl Bazbaz Recount The edge that ATT “only restricts direct access to a user’s IDFA, the rest is basically an honor system, where Apple asks developers to respect the user’s choice not to track, but doesn’t block in fact no third party tracker itself “.

“Application tracking protection directly blocks these third-party trackers, making the tool more powerful than what’s available on iOS,” said the executive.

It’s an interesting comparison, given that DuckDuckGo can’t influence how Android works. The entire anti-tracking process takes place in DuckDuckGo, the app you need to download to block tracking.

The animation shows DuckDuckGo’s anti-tracking feature for Android in action. Image source: DuckDuckGo

How DuckDuckGo Anti-Tracking Works on Android

DuckDuckGo explains in a blog post That App Tracking Protection is a free feature of its DuckDuckGo Android app.

ATP will detect when Android apps are about to send data to third-party tracking companies that DuckDuckGo tracks. This is where the blockage occurs. App Tracking Protection will run in the background and block any app trackers it detects. Everything happens in real time and the anti-tracking tool works continuously.

DuckDuckGo compares the feature to a VPN service, although ATP does not route traffic through a VPN server:

App Tracking Protection is not a virtual private network (VPN), although your device recognizes it as such. This is because app tracking protection uses a local “VPN connection”, which means it works its magic right on your smartphone. However, application tracking protection is different from VPNs in that it never routes application data through an external server.

The company said more than 96% of the free and popular Android apps it tested contained hidden third-party trackers. Of these, 87% sent data to Google and 68% sent data to Facebook.

How to activate DuckDuckGo’s anti-tracking tool

The company explains that the service is still in beta as it perfects it. but you can join it from the DuckDuckGo in a few clicks:

  1. Download DuckDuckGo for Android (or update to the latest version).
  2. Open Settings> App Tracking Protection (in the Privacy section).
  3. Click on “Join the private waiting list”.

DuckDuckGo warns that some functionality of the application may be impaired. But users have the option of resuming tracking some of their favorite apps if they experience performance issues. This is, after all, a beta test.

It is also important that the tracking of a few unspecified applications continues to work. The “small number of apps” excluded from tracking relies on the “to work properly” functionality. DuckDuckGo said he hopes to narrow the list down in time.


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