DuckDuckGo has introduced App Tracking Protection for Android into beta. It is a new feature in their existing app that will block third-party trackers like Google and Facebook lurking in other apps.
Across all your apps, your personal data is being sent to dozens of third-party companies, thousands of times per week. This data enables tracking networks like Facebook and Google to create even more detailed digital profiles on you. With those profiles, tracking networks can manipulate what you see online, target you with ads based on your behavior, and even sell your data to other companies like data brokers, advertisers, and governments.
According to DuckDuckGo, over 96% of the popular free Android apps they tested (based on AndroidRank.org rankings) contained hidden third-party trackers. Of those, 87% sent data to Google and 68% sent data to Facebook.
If you’re using an iPhone or iPad, you are protected by Apple’s App Tracking Transparency. This feature asks users in each app whether they want to allow third-party app tracking or not, with the vast majority of people opting-out.
Most smartphone users worldwide use Android, DuckDuckGo claims, where no similar feature to Apple’s App Tracking Transparency exists. As such, it makes sense for DuckDuckGo to create something similar that protects Android users from being tracked without their permission.
The App Tracking Protection from DuckDuckGo is currently in beta and is free. It blocks trackers it identifies in other apps from third-party companies (those different from the company that owns each app). The App Tracking Protection is built into the DuckDuckGo Android app.
I think this is an excellent solution, especially since it is created by DuckDuckGo, a company that clearly cares about privacy. It is unclear to me why Android smartphones don’t already have something like Apple’s App Tracking Transparency protections. In my opinion, users of Android phones should have the same protection as users of Apple’s iPhones and iPads do.