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DuckDuckGo's revamped app and extensions take privacy to heart

DuckDuckGo's revamped app is available on the Google Play Store, while the browser extensions are available for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.

Published onJanuary 23, 2018

Switching to DuckDuckGo for my search queries was a big leap, but it somewhat satisfied my privacy needs. Thanks to its revamped app and browser extensions, that privacy blanket just got significantly larger.

The company’s search engine hasn’t changed, though the Privacy Browser app and extensions will grade websites based on ad network tracking. This is the type of tracking companies like Google and Facebook use to monitor your browsing habits for targeted advertising.

DuckDuckGo says its software will “expose and brick” these trackers once they are found, though because of the sheer volume of them, and because advertising firms are not stupid, not every tracker will be discovered and nailed down.

Websites also get graded on the encryption they use, with grades ranging from A to F. For reference, our website went from a D to a B after some tinkering with the extension.

Talking with TechCrunch, DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg said barely any website is deserving of an A. According to Weinberg, websites can still “collect data as a first party and sell it,” even if things are blocked and encrypted.

eelo is a Google-free alternative for people focused on privacy

Because of that, the difference between a B and an A is whether a website’s privacy policy has been vetted.

Elsewhere, DuckDuckGo teamed up with Terms of Service Didn’t Read to offer summaries of a website’s terms of service. The idea is to help you better understand what you consent to when you click “I agree.”

Finally, Weinberg said DuckDuckGo is gaining traction among folks who want online privacy. The service has handled 16 billion searches since 2009, six billion of which were made just this past year.

If this figure continues to increase, Weinberg says it could force tech companies to reconsider their business models. Our eyebrows are understandably raised, given how much companies like Google and Facebook rely on advertising revenue, but who can say what will happen.

You can download DuckDuckGo’s Privacy Browser app at the link below and also find browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.

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