DuckDuckGo’s new features keep advertisers and tech companies from snooping on you (and selling your information.)

By Liz Steelman
January 23, 2018
spreadprivacy.com

It's happened to all of us: We look at a pair of very expensive shoes online for half a millisecond (you know, because dreams!), then we're magically greeted with ads for that exact same pair on all of our social media platforms for weeks. It’s not only annoying; it’s pretty creepy, too! But now there's an app to stop that: DuckDuckGo.

Today, the privacy-protecting search company announced revamped versions of its browser extension and mobile app in a blog post. The updates are better designed to protect users’ information and respect their privacy. The app and extension now include a built-in tracker network blocker, more advanced encryption, and private search. These three features all have the aim of keeping you more in control of your information.

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For those unfamiliar with what a “tracker network” is, it’s the coding underneath webpages. These "networks" collect your personal information and browsing habits and share them with advertising partners. According to DuckDuckGo, Google has trackers on 76 percent of webpages and Facebook has trackers on 24 percent of the web. But with an automatic tracker blocker, you prevent these advertisers from taking your info and become aware of who's trying to track you.

The update also includes a new “Privacy Grade rating” which gives each website you visit an A to F rating. The rating gives you an idea of what information each site is trying to glean from you. It also offers steps you can take to increase your privacy controls.

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Of course, the app and browser include the private search tool that started it all. According to the company, they don’t track your information via their search. That means your IP address won’t be collected and shared. So go ahead and do all those embarrassing searches you want!

In the blog post, the tech company transparently warns that “hardly any website currently gets an “A” on privacy.” Yet they hope that their tools “will go a long way to protecting your privacy online, without compromising your Internet experience.” Hopefully, invasive autotracking becomes a thing of the past. Wouldn't it be great to live in a future where one can freely internet window shop without everyone knowing about it?

In order to get the app on your mobile phone or browser, download from duckduckgo.com/app.

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