Your Android apps track you. Here’s how to stop them

Duck Duck Go started out as a privacy-focused search engine. It obviously had (and still has) serious competition from Google. But the company behind the search engine wasn’t content with just offering this one service and soon began developing a web browser. Said web browser was built from the ground up to be as privacy-centric as the search engine.

The first platform to receive the Duck Duck Go browser was Android, and while I don’t use it as my favorite mobile browser, there’s one feature I can totally count on. This feature is called App Tracking Protection and it blocks third-party trackers lurking in the apps you have installed. That’s right, the tracking doesn’t just take place in a web browser, but also in all the apps you have installed.

In today’s world of constant privacy intrusions and security threats, you want to block every kind of tracking that you can. Ever since I installed Duck Duck Go and turned on the app tracking protection, I’ve been getting a fairly constant stream of tracker blocks when an app isn’t being used, or even when an app hasn’t been opened for weeks or months.

Here’s an example: Within the last 5 hours, Duck Duck Go App Tracking Protection has blocked:

  • 4 tracking attempts from the Uber app (haven’t used the app since last November 2021).

  • 38 tracking attempts from the NYTimes app (didn’t open the app today).

  • 30 tracking attempts from my banking app (which I used this morning).

Duck Duck Go blocked each of these attempts without me having to do anything. If these tracking attempts are blocked, the apps (and the companies behind them) can’t track my behavior either when I’m using the app or when I’m using it. And since companies often track you through apps they don’t even own, the need for such privacy is compounded.

You too can enjoy this privacy. However, there is a caveat. App-tracking protection is currently in beta, so you’ll need to request an invite to the program to enable the feature. But once your invitation has been accepted, you can turn on app tracking protection and enjoy the extra privacy.

Let’s install Duck Duck Go on Android and enable app tracking protection feature.

Install Duck Duck Go on Android

The process of installing Duck Duck Go is simple. Just follow these steps:

  1. Open the Google Play Store on your Android device.

  2. Look for Duck Duck Go.

  3. Find and tap DuckDuckGo’s entry

  4. Tap Install

  5. Wait for the installation to complete

Once the installation is complete, you should find the Duck Duck Go app in your app drawer. Tap the launcher to open the app.

How to enable app tracking protection

With the app open, tap the menu (three vertical buttons at the top right) and tap Settings from the pop-up menu. Scroll to the bottom of the settings menu and tap App tracking protection. If prompted, tap Join the private waiting list to be added to the mailing list. You shouldn’t have to wait too long to be accepted. Close the app and wait a few minutes before opening it again.

Once accepted into the beta program, go back to the Settings menu and tap on App Tracking Protection. You should now see the On/Off slider associated with App Tracking Protection (Figure A).

Figure A

Ente1.jpg

App tracking protection has been enabled on my Pixel 6 Pro.

At this point, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the added protection that Duck Duck Go offers. You’ll get notifications every time an app tracker gets blocked, and you’d be surprised how often this happens.

About Willie Ash

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