A new update from DuckDuckGo makes App Tracking Protection available to all Android users.
Originally launched as a limited beta on DuckDuckGo’s mobile browser in late 2021, the feature remains the same today.
When activated, App Tracking Protection detects when a smartphone app is about to send data to a third-party tracker and blocks it – at least most of the time. If a tracker wants to collect data while you sleep, it can work in the background.
DuckDuckGo says App Tracking Protection uses a “local VPN connection” to work and does not send any data to the company’s servers.
There is a new feature in the public beta that displays everything that is being blocked in real-time. It includes who the offending third-party tracker is and what data they are collecting. If you turn on notifications, you’ll see a quick summary of how many tracking attempts have been blocked. As part of its efforts to keep companies like Google and Adobe from collecting data, DuckDuckGo has made its massive company blocklist publicly available on GitHub.
The iPhone has something similar called App Tracking Transparency. However, it may not be the best option. Kamyl Bazbaz, vice president of communications at DuckDuckGo, told The Verge last year that Apple’s tool only blocks a user’s Identifier for Advertisers. In addition, developers are not required to respect a user’s choice not to be tracked.
App Tracking Protection is available by updating your DuckDuckGo browser on your Android phone to the latest version or by downloading it from the Google Play Store. In order to activate the protection, users must go into their browser’s settings and follow the onboarding instructions.
The protection tool still needs work. According to a DuckDuckGo representative, there are still third-party trackers DuckDuckGo needs to add to its blocklist. The beta may also disable protections on other apps. In order to improve App Tracking Protection, the company is asking users for feedback. Open the Settings menu in the app and select Share Feedback.
A DuckDuckGo representative told us the company is considering an iOS beta.