On Wednesday, DuckDuckGo announced a new privacy tool for Android that will aid in shielding you from businesses collecting personal information through your apps. Users of the DuckDuckGo for Android app will be able to benefit from some of the privacy protections previously provided to iPhone users thanks to the new App Tracking Protection feature, which is currently available in beta.
The business’s App Tracking Protection technology not only prevents data gathering, but also allows you to see exactly what data apps are attempting to gather and where they are attempting to send it. The feature was tested by actual users over the past year by DuckDuckGo. Utilizing the function is simple. Install the DuckDuckGo app, go to Settings, choose “App Tracking Protection,” and then just follow the on-screen directions.
People were unaware of how terrible the data collecting actually was, according to Peter Dolanjski, director of product at DuckDuckGo. People were “very puzzled,” he added, “not just by the sheer volume of requests that applications are making, but also by the nature of the data that they are requesting.”
Your behaviour across apps and websites controlled by other firms is tracked by data and advertising companies like Meta, Google, and countless others to generate revenue. Using small pieces of code known as trackers, app developers transport your data straight from your phone to business servers in order to share it with third parties. When an app tries to transmit data to a third party tracker, the App Tracking Protection tool detects it and stops the majority of those transmissions.
When you open App Tracking Protection, the DuckDuckGo app offers you a real-time report of the efforts to capture your data. App Tracking Protection runs in the background of your regular phone use. If you aren’t familiar with the inner workings of IT devices, the numbers will be astounding.
The average Android user has 35 apps on their phone, according to DuckDuckGo. According to their testing, a phone with 35 installed applications will send between 1,000 and 2,000 packets of monitoring data to more than 70 distinct tracking companies per day, however this figure may be either higher or lower depending on the apps you use.
That data also includes personally identifiable information, such as your location, email address, phone number, ID numbers, information used for device fingerprinting, and more, in addition to information about your activities.
Users who used the feature felt threatened. When people picked up their phones in the morning after waking up, Dolanjski said, “they told us the most alarming thing was seeing all the tracking that had taken place overnight while they were asleep.” “When you know it’s happening in the background, it just makes it creepier,”
Apple unveiled a privacy option with a similar moniker last year called App Tracking Transparency. The setting gave iPhone users some of the greatest, most user-friendly privacy protection now available, but it also created a revolution in the IT sector (Meta claimed the setting cost it $10 billion in a year). However, Android’s operating system does not provide anything comparable. Although Android users have access to a variety of additional tracker blocking apps, DuckDuckGo’s solution is free and developed by a business with a track record of upholding users’ privacy.
In some ways, DuckDuckGo’s privacy technology is actually more potent than Apple’s. A policy-based method is utilised by Apple’s App Tracking Transparency, which informs apps they are not permitted to follow users and makes it difficult to acquire an ID number used for advertising. The technology from DuckDuckGo is more inclusive; rather than securing specific data points, it completely prohibits communication with various third parties, regardless of the data being communicated.
To stop the collection of that data, “we feel that it’s important to block the requests of these trackers altogether,” said Dolanjski. Because Android users don’t have any substantial built-in protection, the business decided to launch the functionality there initially. You won’t be able to collect data in any other way, he claimed, unless Google introduces more controls in the future. In the future, DuckDuckGo may incorporate the feature into its iPhone app.