DuckDuckGo is a search engine that doesn’t provide personalized search results, doesn’t store data about your search history, and doesn’t use your personal data for advertising purposes.
While DuckDuckGo search results aren’t always as accurate or helpful as Google’s, the service has earned a solid reputation over the past decade for emphasizing privacy over profit.
When you enter a search term at DuckDuckGo, the ads you see in the results aren’t based on personal data obtained by trackers. It’s just related to the words you typed in the box. But click through to a website and the tracking begins… unless you’re using an ad blocker or other tools that offer tracking protection.
Now DuckDuckGo is offering its own tracker blocking tools.
The company has announced that its mobile apps for Android and iOS as well as its browser extensions for Firefox, Safari, and Chrome all have “built-in tracker network blocking, smarter encryption, and, of course, private search” that don’t just work when you’re visiting DuckDuckGo.com, but also when you open any website.
Tracker blocking isn’t technically the same as ad blocking. Instead of attempting to detect all ads on a website and prevent them from being displayed, a tracker blocker only prevents ads and other scripts from running if they’re associated with networks that keep track of your data.
So yeah, for most intents and purposes, it’s tough to tell the difference. Visit most websites using the DuckDuckGo app and you won’t see any ads. But you know where you will see ads? On DuckDuckGo’s site. I honestly didn’t mean that cynically: it makes sense, since DuckDuckGo’s ads don’t track user data.
Unfortunately most major ad networks do, so it’d be tough for a small or mid-sized website like Liliputing to go tracker-free overnight. Maybe now that Mozilla and DuckDuckGo are both pushing tracker protection as a feature there’ll be more incentive for someone to come up with an AdSense-without-tracking solution. Or maybe Google’s dominant positions in the browser and search engine spaces means that it’ll take more than that to change the status quo.
Anyway, back to DuckDuckGo’s update, the latest versions of the company’s apps and browser extensions now also provide a Privacy Grade for each website you visit, from A to F. Letter grades are assigned based on features like the number of tracker networks used, privacy policies, and presence of encryption.