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DuckDuckGo is a new tool designed to prevent Android apps from tracking users

DuckDuckGo

According to Wired, DuckDuckGo’s new tool prevents apps from tracking Android users. A new tool called App Tracking Protection is essentially a watered-down version of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature, which allows users to opt out of data gathering within apps.

DuckDuckGo’s tool has not been rolled out as part of an Android update, nor is it available to download separately – it’s integrated into DuckDuckGo’s privacy-focused browser app, but can be used on any mobile device. 

In a blog post, the company states that the tool will identify as well as block “trackers” in other apps.

The App Tracking Protection will take effect as soon as you enable it, running in the background. A third-party tracker is prevented from using your information when the tool detects that an app is about to send data to a third-party tracker.

DuckDuckGo says that it constantly works on finding and blocking new trackers, which means that your data will be protected from any new trackers that emerge.

DuckDuckGo

You can also see the trackers that have been blocked in real time in the DuckDuckGo app, as well as the destination of your data.

App Tracking Protection, which is offered by the company, isn’t a virtual private network (VPN), but is designed to behave like one. “DuckDuckGo explains in its post that App Tracking Protection uses a local VPN connection to work its magic on your smartphone. It differs from VPNs in that app data is never routed through a server external to the app.”

DuckDuckGo conducted its own tests and found that 96% of some of the most popular free Android apps use third-party trackers that users are unaware of. 

It was also discovered that 97% of these apps send user data to Google, and 68% to Facebook.

Currently, the tool is in beta, but you can join the private waitlist (you don’t have to enter any personal information). Open the DuckDuckGo app from the Google Play Store to sign up.

Under the “Privacy Section,” select “App Tracking Protection.” Next, choose “Join the Private Waitlist.” DuckDuckGo says it is gradually rolling out the feature.

DuckDuckGo doesn’t have the ability to change the internal setup of Android devices as does Google, so it can’t completely replace Apple’s tool, as pointed out by Wired.

It’s the same story if you combine DuckDuckGo‘s blocker with the privacy settings on Android devices – Apple’s strict App Tracking Transparency tools supposedly cost social media platforms $10 billion as a result of uprooting the advertising system on iPhones.

Google made it more difficult for apps to collect data on users by restricting them from accessing Ad IDs after users opt out of tracking in response to Apple’s tracking tool.

Even though Android’s policies are less restrictive than Apple’s, the privacy protections are still less effective.

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