DuckDuckGo, the privacy-focused search engine, has announced the launch of “App Tracking Protection” in beta form to block third-party trackers on Android devices. The feature takes inspiration from Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) tool that offers a similar experience where users can opt-out from data tracking within apps. Technically, the tool does not block ads but hides your activities on other platforms to prevent big giants from creating a digital profile for targeted ads. DuckDuckGo aims to deliver a similar privacy experience on Android smartphones where users get advertisements more frequently.
In a blog post, DuckDuckGo notes that 96 percent of free apps the company tested based on AndroidRank.org rankings contained hidden third-party trackers. The company found that Google and Facebook collected the most amount of data from these free apps. Therefore, the company aims to offer a safe online experience with the new DuckDuckGo App Tracking Protection feature built into its app for Android. Since the tool is beta form, it will be getting more tweaks down the line.
It is also likely that some users may not see the option yet as it is still under development. In that case, Android DuckDuckGo app users can join the private waitlist by heading to Settings > App Tracking Protection > Click “Join the Private Waitlist.” The company claims that a small percentage of apps (without naming them) are excluded from the list, though it hopes top “to reduce this list even further over time.” Once users enable the App Tracking Protection, the DuckDuckGo Android app will analyse apps to see whether user data is being sent to tracking companies. If the DuckDuckGo Android app detects these tacking movements, it will block those requests.
The post clarifies that its native App Tracking Protection does not function as a VPN though the smartphone may recognise it as one. It is because the tool uses a local “VPN connection,” though it does not route app data through an external server.