DuckDuckGo is sharing data on online trackers with other companies so they can protect you too
Going forward, browser makers will be using a carefully created, and now free, list of companies that track your online activity
You know DuckduckGo as the search engine that does not track you online. Now, they are taking this feature a step forward by sharing data they have collected on online trackers with other companies (browser makers) so as they can protect your privacy as well.
DuckDuckGo said on Thursday that they have started sharing a data set called Tracker Radar that has a list of 5,326 internet domains used by 1,727 companies that track you online. Tracker Radar is available to everyone and browser makers like Vivaldi have already started using it.
"There will be others using it," including browsers more widely used than Vivaldi, DuckDuckGo founder and Chief Executive Gabriel Weinberg said in an interview.
This Tracker Radar and that fact that companies have already started using it, points to the growing importance of protecting privacy. The online ad industry is one of the biggest privacy infringers. They build profiled of people so that they can better target them with ads.
Apple has been pushing for better privacy for a while now and even Google and Facebook has been saying that privacy is priority.
Besides lists like these from companies, users themselves have become more conscious about privacy and have been adopting tracker-blocking browsers like Apple Safari, Brave, Firefox, Edge and DuckDuckGo to browse the web. There are also browser extensions like Ghostery, Privacy Badger and DuckDuckGo's own options.
People have downloaded DuckDuckGo's browsers and browser extensions 20 million times in 2019 and are doing so at a rate of about 100,000 per day now, Weinberg revealed.
DuckDuckGo's search results show ads from Microsoft, but those ads are based on your search terms, not on other online activity or personal information collected.
If it's making money by focusing on privacy, why give away this Tracker Radar data?
Weinberg acknowledges that releasing the data could "cannibalise" its own browser extension product, but "that isn't the company's sole priority". "Our vision for the company is to raise the standard of trust online," Weinberg said. "That vision trumps the profit potential here."
Anyone can use the Tracker Radar data, which DuckDuckGo updates once a month. But for those who want the company's help using the data, DuckDuckGo also licenses it for a fee to cover costs, he said.