Search engines like Google use crawlers. Those are bots that crawl through the web to identify keywords and index websites so users can find them with ease. Privacy, however, doesn’t factor into the browser/search engine equation. That’s why DuckDuckGo, a private search engine, has introduced a new type of crawler tool focused on trackers.
The company calls its new tool the Tracker Radar. Its purpose is to track and block the wrong sort of trackers. Both browsers and websites use trackers to monitor people’s browsing history and collect personal data. Many do this for advertising reasons. But some also sell that data to other third parties.
These third-party companies, for example, app developers, use that data to develop new products catering to specific people. It’s pretty crummy but harmless. The problem comes in when data thieves and hackers steal that data. It usually happens through data breaches, which have become a massive problem lately. Some hackers even go as far as manipulating tracking scripts to steal valuable data. Others use existing tracking pixels to take information for themselves.
That pretty much explains why a tool like Tracker Radar is not only useful but also necessary. So read on to find out how it works.
What is DuckDuckGo?
DuckDuckGo has been around for a while. It is one of the first search engines to launch with a focus on user privacy. Because of that, it doesn’t track or remember people’s online searches and delivers the same results regardless of who’s asking.
Sure, that means DuckDuckGo is a little harder to navigate than alternatives like Google. But it’s a small price to pay for privacy. Plus, many DuckDuckGo users report a great user experience and that they’re still able to find what they are looking for. Only it might not appear in the first two or three results.
On top of that, DuckDuckGo leads the privacy pack when it comes to extra tools like smarter encryption and privacy tips. The Tracker Radar is only the latest addition to the list.
Here’s How TheTracker Radar Works
There are other established tools out there that serve as tracker blockers. For instance, EasyList boasts a database with over 100,00 URLs. But looking at the greater scheme of things, that isn’t that many. And the tool gets updated only manually. Brave, a private browser, even used EasyList as an example of tracker blocking tools whose databases are outdated and ineffective.
DuckDuckGo’s Tracker Radar, on the other hand, works with crawlers that comb through the web. It auto-updates its database. The tool is open-sourced and transparent about its practices, like the browser itself. Both conventional and more obscure trackers make it onto the list, along with details like their behavior. It includes cookies and browser fingerprinting.
Another essential bit of information that the database of this tool shows is who owns these trackers. That will enable developers who can use the code to select the sketchy trackers they want to block on their websites or apps. Or, they could embed the whole list and block them all. It would be a better option in most cases. On top of that, researchers will be able to make use of the database to gain a better understanding of the trackers and cookies used today.
But Tracker Radar isn’t for businesses or developers only. Individuals can also make use of it to protect themselves and their browsing data. The mobile or desktop browser extension will block all those trackers as long as you keep it turned on.
The Pros and Cons of DuckDuckGo’s New Tool
- It’s not necessary to use the DuckDuckGo search engine to use the Tracker Radar. You can download the tool as an extension for any browser.
- Those who use the DuckDuckGo on a browser or as a mobile app are already getting the benefits of this tracker. There’s no need to install it separately.
- A tracker blocking tool like this doesn’t protect against every type of online tracking. For that, something like a VPN is still a better option. A VPN hides your IP address and encrypts your connection so no one (not even your ISP) can track them. NordVPN looks like one of the most popular options right now and could be worth checking out.
- If someone uses the extension on any other non-private browser, there may still be built-in trackers that it can’t block.
Other Browsers Focus on Privacy Too
Browsers have been making some headway in adding more privacy recently. Mozilla, for instance, has been adding new privacy features to Firefox for years and enabled substantial privacy extensions. Google has also recently started adding more privacy solutions to the Chrome browser. But Google, especially, is still in the business of making money off people’s data. So right now, neither option is as comprehensive as what the Tracker Radar offers.