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DuckDuckGo Testing Android Tracking Protection

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The tracking blocker is currently in a beta state.

Search engine DuckDuckGo, which bills itself as a more privacy-focused alternative to engines like Google, has been developing a suite of similarly designed services intended to protect user privacy and data. Their latest offering is App Tracking Protection for Android, which does exactly what it says on the tin: prevent apps on an Android phone from tracking user activity.

According to DuckDuckGo, when this service is activated, a localized VPN is launched on the user’s phone that automatically blocks all tracking attempts from sources noted in their database. Unlike some other services, this process is entirely localized; no data is sent to either DuckDuckGo or any other remote server.

In a statement to Ars Technica, Allison Goodman, senior communications manager for DuckDuckGo, explained that when a tracker from their database is spotted, the service “looks at the destination domain for any outbound request and blocks them if they are in our blocklist and the requesting app is not owned by the same company that owns the domain.”

She added that “much of the data collected by trackers is not controlled by [Android] permissions.”

This service has been in a beta period for about a year, and those who have tried it have reported good results. According to WIRED writer Matt Burgess, the service successfully blocked tracking attempts from 36 different apps on a new Android phone, only half of which he had even logged into.

The service is now in an open beta state for interested users to participate in.