DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser for Android is getting an App Tracking Protection feature

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 20, 2021
Google Android
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19

DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser is an open source web browser for Google's Android operating system by DuckDuckGo. The company, best known for its privacy-focused search engine, developed the Android application as a companion app for Android.

First launched in 2018, the Android application has since then several important feature additions and improvements. At its core, it is a web browser that uses WebView, the rendering engine that is provided by Android.

Some of the application's core features include encryption enforcement, better control over browsing data, blocking of website tracking and of course, use of DuckDuckGo as the search engine.

DuckDuckGo launched an email tracker blocking recently, which is also available as a beta service in the application.

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The latest release, version 5.102.3 of DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser for Android, introduces an App Tracking Protection feature.

New! DuckDuckGo App Tracking Protection BETA — block trackers lurking in your apps. Join the private waitlist (in settings) and your invite will arrive soon.

DuckDuckGo discovered that over 96% of free Android applications that it tested included trackers. Of these, 87% sent data to Google and 68% to Facebook, often without the user seeing any of that in the application.

The new version of the browser can be downloaded from the official GitHub repo, rollout via Google Play is slow as always.

duckduckgo privacy browser app tracking protection

The feature is labeled as beta and users need to join a waiting list and receive an invitation based on the waiting list position to start using it.

Here is how that is done (in the app):

  1. Open the DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser application. Make sure it is at least version 5.102.3.
  2. Select Menu (three-dots) > Settings.
  3. Scroll down to the Privacy section.
  4. Tap on "App Tracking Protection".
  5. Select to join the wait list.

You may enable notifications to get one when you receive the invite to start using the new protection.

DuckDuckGo's tracking protection feature for applications uses the "VPN-method" to block trackers system-wide on Android. The method is not new, but very effective when it comes to the blocking of trackers. Unlike "real" VPN solutions for Android, traffic is not routed through servers on the Internet but handled on the device locally.

After enabling App Tracking Protection, the DuckDuckGo app will detect when your Android apps are about to send data to third-party tracking companies found in our app tracker dataset, and block those requests. You can enjoy your apps as you normally would and App Tracking Protection will run in the background and continue to block the detected trackers throughout your apps, even while you sleep. We are continually working to identify and protect against new trackers, so you can rest easy knowing you’re getting the most up-to-date protection.

If you have turned on notifications, you will get regular summaries of the application's Tracking Protection activity, revealing the number of tracking attempts that were blocked by it and the total number of applications that tried to communicate with the trackers.

The beta version excludes "a small number of apps" because they "rely on tracking to work properly" according to DuckDuckGo.

Now You: do you use tracker blockers on your mobile devices?

Summary
DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser for Android is getting an App Tracking Protection feature
Article Name
DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser for Android is getting an App Tracking Protection feature
Description
A first look at a new privacy feature of the DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser for Android, called App Tracking Protection.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. Alex said on November 20, 2021 at 10:19 am
    Reply

    Nice. Is there a standalone app that does that? I don’t want to be forced to switch browsers just for this feature.

    1. MdN said on November 20, 2021 at 2:24 pm
      Reply

      Yes, Blokada (available from F-Droid) is awesome and free. There is also AdGuard (paid) which does the same. System-wide ad and tracker blocking.

    2. Shiva said on November 20, 2021 at 5:21 pm
      Reply

      I have no experience for a comparison or an evaluation, but I just went through it from F-Droid:

      – Exodus or ClassyShark3xodus to retrieve information about trackers and permissions of installed apps

      – TrackerControl also give you information about trackers (if I remember always on Exodus database) and which apps are using your internet connection, moreover it has blocking features

      – Blokada, DNS66, personalDNSfilter, AdAway, Netguard, AFWall+, RethinkDNS for filtering, blocking or both functions. Take a look on Reddit and users choices or here some suggestions:
      https://github.com/tycrek/degoogle#mobile-apps
      https://divestos.org/index.php?page=recommended_apps

      I use Exodus for a simple screening and RethinkDNS to block apps and DNS filtering on a non-rooted phone. The last one has a plenty of options, but at the moment it is not possible to add personal DNS filters (however it does’t lack of on web\on-device blocklists and a ‘block this domain for all apps’ feature is coming soon).

  2. Plexiglass Cockpit 369 said on November 20, 2021 at 12:57 pm
    Reply

    Search engine, browser, mail forwarding, now a blocker – these guys are competently building an ecosystem to attract and retain their user.

    Brendan Brave does the same – search engine, VPN, cryptoscam..

    As a result, we have a lot of small, bad, non-competitive services for the marginals, against which the decisions of the monopolists shine.

    1. DDG can't be trusted. said on November 20, 2021 at 6:24 pm
      Reply

      @Plexiglass Cockpit 369

      And the difference is Brendan Eich has always showed he wanted to build something for the benefit of people while making money, for all the Mozilla and Firefox fanboys, they sometimes apparently forget Brendan Eich was the one who did the best for it and it was until he was kicked out (even if he said it was mutual) when Mozilla started to go down.

      Anyway my point is DuckDuckGo is owned by Gabriel Weinberg, who is a scammer who doesn’t care about your privacy, he is only using it to make money because he knows privacy doesn’t exist but dumb humans will fall in the trap like if privacy existed and there was a way to stop “Big Brother” from watching you, with or without internet that’s what they do.

      Gabriel Weinberg the same one who created Names DB a surveillance capitalist service designed to coerce naive users to submit sensitive information about their friends, that was in 2006… But do you really think he cares today in 2021 about your privacy? nah he doesn’t, he just found a way to make money and doin’t get in trouble.

      Do you really trust DuckDuckGo… especially when we talk about the app?
      I mean, DDG’s app was sending every URL you visit to DDG servers, I can’t even make this up when they had a feature that literally did this but they didn’t care.

      but anyway… they still use Bing today, reason why even when Microsoft hid the tiananmen tank man because of a “mistake” DuckDuckGo suffered too, and you have to believe duckduckgo somehow doesn’t send some sensitive information that Microsoft will keep in their servers for many months or forever, if DDG was caught violating their own privacy cookie policy and sending URLS on the app, and was acussed of fingerprinting users and collecting users’ operating systems and everything they highlight in the search results, or what about all data available in your session is sent to the advertiser, which is why the Epic browser project refuses to set DDG as the default browser.

      They don’t even have a way to turn off the affiliate forced links whenever you click on a result thaty contains Ebay or Amazon, the funny thing is how we have clueless people still talking about how “Brave was injecting affiliate links” which was a dishonest lie, but nobody ever touches DDG affiliate links which are really being injected and forced.

      About censorship… Do you know DuckDuckGo censors on top of what Bing already censors? so they don’t even fight censorship, they create more. Why do people think DDG is any good? they manipulate results just as much as Google and Bing do.
      You can even check it on twitter by searching “revolver news duckduckgo” and you will find still few traces of the remindind talk about how DDG was hiding the result, it was almost a year and a half ago, But DDG hid the revolvernews website and then apologized for it when they were caught, the worst part is while DDG hid it, you could still get it on Searx as first result, and Bing still showed it… even Bing, which is a manipulated search engine by Microsoft showed it while DDG hid it.
      And I don’t care if you think revolvernews is blabla, the point is they are censoring and they will keep doing it until they get caught.
      And I have witnessed more things but I just saw them on reddit and how they manipulated image results because of agendas “we are sorry we will fix it soon” then I made search images again and the results were gone.

      DDG promotes cloudflare. which if they cared about privacy they wouldn’t use or promote it, because it is bad.

      Also DDG donates to scammy criminal extrimist organizations, so your searches will pretty much fund them, doesn’t have anything to do with privacy but has to do with the scam ecosystem they are building to keep getting money with the fantasy and the marketing scheme called “privacy”.

      We can also mention how magically they got the duck.com domain when it belonged to Google, yeah, Google decided to give it away and be nice about it, sure.

      I mean, do you really trust them? from all the companies I have had contact with that promotes privacy but I can’t trust or have mixed feelings about them, DDG must be the worst because people fall so easily for the trap and keep using them, DDG is not better than Google or Microsoft, reason why they even partnered couple yearsa go with Yahoo and they were (or still are) using Microsoft email service plus the Bing API etc etc.

      You can believe and trust whatever you want but people should do more researching just searching for WeinBERG should bring all the suspicious not to ever trust DDG ever, doesn’t mean people have to blindly trust Startpage or Gigablast or Brave Search or any other search engine but more than DDG? yes.

      And that’s the difference with Brendan Eich, I might not agree with his crytoscam ecosystem and Brave, but at least he is the ONLY one speaking up against Big Tech censorship and eventually will bring goggles system to Brave Search that will combat censorship and eventually you will expect they will drop Google as a way to accelerate the indexer and be completely independent.

      Privacy vs Censorship, one is an illusion, the other one is a reality and silicon valley will manipulate and do whatever they want, I mean, people have always censored everyone around, there is no real freedom when it comes to opposite thinking, but when we talk about how ‘Big Tech’ is obviously manipulating the internet so YOU read whatever they want, YOU think however they want, and YOU do whatever they want you to do, then there is a big problem.
      Privacy? it willl keep being some illusion because once you are on the internet, the privacy you can get is minimal, it is just a word to ditract you from other agendas that really will shape the form people think and do things, people should be able to think whatever they want and Big Tech or Governments should decide what or how. Blocking some scripts will not really stop anti-privacy movements by big corportations, when you get a credit card and next day you are getting calls from random numbers offering you anything, that means, internet or not, they have always made business out of your information, but I think cesorship and issues like that are more risk than the false sense of privacy.

      1. ShintoPlasm said on November 21, 2021 at 10:25 am
        Reply

        So much conspiracy in one place…

      2. Plexiglass Cockpit 369 said on November 21, 2021 at 4:26 pm
        Reply

        @ShintoPlasm

        Yeah, that was a huge load of conspiracy. It seems that our metallized friend saved up for a long time (or forgot to take his medicine) and burst out with The Duckologist Manifesto.

        Imagine having so much useless nonsense in your head, from Tiananmen to Weinberg’s childhood. Poor guy…

      3. ShintoPlasm said on November 22, 2021 at 11:35 am
        Reply

        That’s not Iron Heart’s writing style, as far as I can tell.

      4. Iron Heart said on November 23, 2021 at 3:39 pm
        Reply

        @ShintoPlasm

        This retard thinks I am behind literally everything while yelling “conspiracy theory” at the same time. LOL. And yes, obviously that is not me.

      5. WatermelonPeacock777 said on November 23, 2021 at 7:20 pm
        Reply

        @Iron Heart

        Yes, he definitely writes better than you. All you can do lately (especially after being exposed) is dumb swearing, having long forgotten about thoughtful and civilized discussion. Though the way of “thought” is extremely similar.

      6. Iron Heart said on November 24, 2021 at 1:11 pm
        Reply

        @WatermelonMoron

        > Iron Heart is arguably behind everything, according to you
        > screeches “conspiracy theory” like a madman
        > not a retard

        LOL.

      7. Anonymous said on November 21, 2021 at 4:41 pm
        Reply

        You recognize a real “dissenter” when he’s seriously believing that US monopolies like Microsoft are first of all guilty of conspiring against… the poor sad little victim US imperialism.

        Yes, Microsoft is not hiding that it’s doing its part in the western campaign of political censorship of the internet that is painted as “fact checking”, but it’s for the CIA, not for China, validating and amplifying tabloid level far-right lies when they are about for example China, Venezuela, or communism, but censoring facts about actual US imperialism crimes and motives.

      8. Anonymous said on November 22, 2021 at 10:09 pm
        Reply

        “DDG’s app was sending every URL you visit to DDG servers”

        https://github.com/duckduckgo/Android/issues/527#issuecomment-652837593

        There are more problems with Duckduckgo but not motivated to write more about that now.

  3. motang said on November 20, 2021 at 1:19 pm
    Reply

    This is very cool, I have opted into it. Waiting for my code.

  4. Adrian Kentleton said on November 20, 2021 at 1:21 pm
    Reply

    I’ve got version 5.102.2 of the browser (updated today), and was able to join the waitlist.

  5. Anonymous said on November 20, 2021 at 3:21 pm
    Reply

    Kiwi Browser for Android is very stable and actively developed again. Supports extensions in Android

  6. Yash said on November 20, 2021 at 5:30 pm
    Reply

    I’m using Blokada. Good from DDG to launch this feature but I fear their app will get delisted from Play Store.

  7. Anonymous said on November 20, 2021 at 9:57 pm
    Reply

    “DuckDuckGo discovered that over 96% of free Android applications that it tested included trackers. Of these, 87% sent data to Google and 68% to Facebook, often without the user seeing any of that in the application.”

    And now you stop wondering why Google’s application stores are full of spyware, that are either welcomed by the policies or not removed when not policy compliant. And why they make you believe that installing from other sources (F-Droid, for example) would be worse for your security.

    “DuckDuckGo’s tracking protection feature for applications uses the “VPN-method” ”

    A browser is often the most privacy hostile software installed on a computer, although maybe less so on mobile ones where almost everything is spyware thanks to Apple and Google being in charge. It’s often a good reflex to close it when no longer needed to limit tracking (by sites, for example). That’s why that feature should be provided as a separate application instead of pushing users never to close their browser. It’s bad enough that mobile operating systems push users never to close their applications in general.

    “do you use tracker blockers on your mobile devices?”

    I used to have F-Droid Blokada [a] that operated similarly, as a “local VPN filter”, but stopped using it when in addition to hijacking in version 4 the secondary DNS provider without warning by default, to an evil one additionally, they started in version 5 doing hijacking for the primary one for profit and no longer allowing to avoid it:

    https://community.blokada.org/t/how-to-use-blokada-5-networks-feature/9808/9

    That’s a bit what I had said I feared would happen when Firefox gave the bad example by hijacking the DNS provider by default to please Google and the rest of the farm, now even “privacy” applications feel allowed to do that for their business without even a warning.

    Plus, lovely Google’s Android was killing Blokada all the time even after I tried many tricks to keep it alive.

    [a] in addition not to be checked by the F-Droid team for malicious or proprietary code, the Google Play version has fewer features than the F-Droid version because of Google restricting by policy what privacy applications are allowed to do:

    “Blokada Slim does not contain features that Google Play policy does not allow us to include, namely real time adblocking and in-app payments. It blocks ads through changing your DNS servers, which has a similar effect, but is less configurable.”

    https://community.blokada.org/t/whats-the-difference-between-blokada-and-blokada-slim/38

    Google not letting applications in its store do real time ad blocking (while scaring users away from using something from outside of Google’s store) is a typical example of Google’s disgusting power abuse under the false excuse of security or something else.

    1. Ray said on November 22, 2021 at 9:17 pm
      Reply

      Adaway also offers a local VPN option if you do not have root.

      I’d recommend that or personalDNSfilter.

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