The staunch privacy advocates DuckDuckGo have just unveiled one of their most promising online tools for most smartphones in the world. The company announced this morning that its popular App Tracking Protection beta feature is now available to all Android app users, along with some updates and enhancements to the existing tool. App Tracking Protection is a free component of DuckDuckGo for Android that helps users block third-party trackers from a variety of apps on their phone, providing more privacy and fewer annoying targeted ads for products you simply I was looking for the other day.
[Related: DuckDuckGo’s private browser is now available to all Mac users.]
According to the company’s research, Android users have about 35 apps on their phones that collect 1,000 to 2,000 tracking attempts every day through covert interactions with more than 70 different tracking companies. These companies, including giants like Google and Meta, compile detailed consumer profiles that include aspects such as exact geolocation, email addresses, time zones, phone numbers, travel patterns, and even your smartphone make and model, resolution screen, language and internet provider. Third-party advertisers, data brokers, and even governments covet these vast portfolios of data, which are often sold to them at huge profits, resulting in a massive consumer-tracking ecosystem built on people’s most personal data.
However, tools like App Tracking Protection provide a welcome barrier to these invasive tactics—in this case, a local VPN connection ensures that your app’s data doesn’t even end up on DuckDuckGo’s own remote servers, much less anyone else’s. DuckDuckGo on Android also provides a real-time view of the feature’s results, including which tracking networks each app is involved in and the data they’ve collected historically. You can even get auto-generated summaries if notifications are turned on
[Related: Anyone can now sign up for DuckDuckGo’s private email service.]
The Android App Tracking Protection beta rollout is the latest in a line of web privacy enhancements available from DuckDuckGo, including a separate browser for Mac users and an email service designed specifically to block hidden trackers. To activate the new feature, Android users simply need to open Settings in DuckDuckGo, select Protection against app tracking under More from DuckDuckGo and follow the on-screen instructions.