DuckDuckGo is introducing a new tool to prevent apps from tracking Android devices. The App Tracking Protection tool will offer more protection from third-party trackers than the App Tracking Transparency feature on Apple that allows users to opt-out of data tracking within apps.
However, DuckDuckGo has not rolled out the new tool as part of an Android update or made it available to download. Instead, DuckDuckGo has built it into a privacy-focused browser app that works across devices. In a blog post, the company said the tool would block “trackers it identifies in other apps from third-party companies”.
The App Tracking Protection will run in the background once enabled. The tool prevents apps from gathering user information by recognising when an app is about to send data to third-party trackers.
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“Across all your apps, your personal data is being sent to dozens of third-party companies, thousands of times per week,” DuckDuckGo said in a blog post.
“App Tracking Protection for Android is free and blocks trackers it identifies in other apps from third-party companies (those different from the company that owns each app). It is now built right into the DuckDuckGo Android app.”
DuckDuckGo said it continually worked to identify and protect against new trackers. Users will also see a real-time view of the trackers the tool has blocked as well as the destination of the data.
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The company also said while the App Tracking Protection tool wasn’t a virtual private network (VPN), the device will behave as one. “This is because App Tracking Protection uses a local ‘VPN connection’ which means that it works its magic right on your smartphone,” DuckDuckGo explained. “However, App Tracking Protection is different from VPNs because it never routes app data through an external server.”
DuckDuckGo found during tests that over 96% of some of Android’s most popular free apps had third-party trackers. The company also found that 87% of these apps sent user data to Google, while 68% sent data to Facebook.
The tool is currently in beta stage. However, users can join the private waitlist by signing up, and downloading the DuckDuckGo app from Google Play Store. The private waitlist can be found under the ‘App Tracking Protection’ tab of the ‘Privacy Section’ of the ‘Settings’ page.