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DuckDuckGo’s Tool Prevents App Tracking in Androids

No one wants to be tracked without his/her consent. In recent times, in order to protect users’ privacy and security, top iOS manufacturers Apple has developed two privacy features which are the app privacy labels and the App Tracking Transparency (ATT). The app privacy labels inform users of the kind of data apps collect. ATT, meanwhile, forces app developers to ask for permission to track users by blocking companies from using the Unique Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) feature to track users. But for some years now, Android lack such a feature good news now is that there’s already a tool that might help prevent Android apps from tracking users. That’s an App Tracking Protection tool in DuckDuckGo, which has a new feature now available in beta. And if it works, the App Tracking Protection (ATP) might be even better than Apple’s ATT.

The Vice President of communications at DuckDuckGo, Kamyl Bazbaz told The Verge that Apple’s ATT Tool “only restricts direct access to a user’s IDFA, the rest is essentially an honor system, where Apple is asking developers to respect user choice not to track but isn’t actually blocking any third party trackers itself. App Tracking Protection blocks those third-party trackers directly, making the tool more powerful than what’s available on iOS.”

That’s an interesting comparison, considering that DuckDuckGo can’t influence the way Android operates. This is because its App Tracking Protection is not a virtual private network (VPN), though your device will recognize it as one. This is because App Tracking Protection uses a local “VPN connection” which means that it works its magic right on your smartphone. However, App Tracking Protection is different from VPNs because it never routes app data through an external server. DuckDuckGo explains in its blog post. The entire anti-tracking process happens inside DuckDuckGo, the app you have to download to block tracking.

How DuckDuckGo ATP works on Android

DuckDuckGo explains in a blog post that the App Tracking Protection tool is a free feature built into DuckDuckGo’s privacy-focused browser Android app. ATP will detect when apps are about to send data to third-party tracking companies that DuckDuckGo keeps track of or any new trackers that might crop up. That’s where the block happens. App Tracking Protection will run continuously in the background once enabled and block the app trackers it detects giving you a real-time view, along with where your data would’ve been going.

How to enable DuckDuckGo’s anti-tracking tool

Though the service tool is still in beta as it perfects it. But you can join as you won’t have to enter any personal information to do so. To sign up;

  • Download DuckDuckGo for Android (or update to the latest version) from the Google Play Store.
  • Open Settings > App Tracking Protection (in the Privacy section).
  • Click “Join the Private Waitlist.”

DuckDuckGo warns that some app features might be harmed as a result as its gradually introducing the feature to more people every week. But users have the option of resuming tracking for some of their favorite apps if they encounter performance issues. This is, after all, a beta test as it hasn’t been rolled out as part of an update to all Android phones, nor is it available as a separate download. Also important is that tracking from a few unspecified apps will continue to work. The “small number of apps” excluded from tracking rely on the feature “to work properly.” DuckDuckGo said it hopes to reduce the list in time.

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