Computers and smartphones have become essential tools in our day-to-day lives. They help us navigate the highways, stay in touch with friends and family, manage our schedules and even find missing items. However, the ability to be connected to the world comes at a cost to our privacy. The apps and search engines we use to get directions, take photos or even look up recipes often track our online activity.
Web tracking programs can monitor your physical location, the topics you’re searching for and the websites you’re visiting. This allows app developers and companies to zero in on your interests and deliver personalized ads and content. In extreme cases, unsuspecting app users’ conversations can be recorded.
As consumers become more tech-savvy, they are demanding more privacy when using their computers and smartphones. And now, a new DuckDuckGo Chrome Extension — available to download to Google Chrome for free — may provide users with some peace of mind while searching the internet.
What Is The DuckDuckGo Chrome Extension?
DuckDuckGo is a company working to protect online user privacy. Lately, its biggest project has been protecting people from Google’s newest tracking method called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC).
“It groups you based on your interests and demographics, derived from your browsing history, to enable creepy advertising and other content targeting without third-party cookies,” explained DuckDuckGo in a company press release. “After a short trial period, Google decided not to make this new tracking method a user choice.”
This means that if you use Google Chrome as your internet browser (and according to Statista, about 2.65 billion people do), you won’t have a choice to opt out of this tracking.
But DuckDuckGo’s new Chrome Extension can help users regain some control over their online privacy by doing the following:
- Defaulting to the DuckDuckGo website. The DuckDuckGo extension sets your default search engine and homepage to DuckDuckGo, which is a search engine that is similar to Google, except that it doesn’t allow all the gathering, storing and selling of your data.
- Escaping online tracking. When you click on Google search results, companies can track and sell this information. The new DuckDuckGo extension will block hidden trackers that lurk on the websites you visit — before they try to collect your data.
- Enforcing encryption. DuckDuckGo forces sites to use an encrypted connection when possible to prevent network snoopers from tracing which webpages you go to or what you do once you get there.
- Automatically announcing your privacy preference. Built into the extension is something called Global Privacy Control (GPC), which helps you express your legal opt-out rights automatically. This will tell websites not to sell or share your personal information under future legal frameworks (e.g., CCPA, GDPR) in various states or countries.
How Can You Get The DuckDuckGo Chrome Extension?
It’s a one-step process that takes less than a minute to set up.
To download the extension, simply visit the DuckDuckGo Chrome Extension webpage, click the “Add to Chrome Button” and it will automatically download to your browser.
DuckDuckGo also recommends making a few other changes to your computer settings, such as staying logged out of your Google account, disabling “Web & App Activity” under Google Activity Controls and disabling “Ad Personalization” under Google Ad Settings.