DuckDuckGo, the privacy-focused web browser, has secretly compiled a list of web trackers-programs that allow operators or websites to capture, store and share information about the behavior of a particular user.
As Internet use these days feel like being plagued by past browsing history. Hidden trackers, power these creepy ads, lurking behind most websites. And your shopping habits are, unfortunately, only the tip of the iceberg of what they know and can exploit.
Web trackers are responsible for showing off advertisements about a company on a separate website that you have just shown interest in. But that’s not the only thing they do; trackers often build a digital user profile by examining their Internet behavior, and the information is then sold to third parties.
DuckDuckGo revealed on Thursday that it would publicly share the data set, as well as open-source the code that will produce and update the list in real time. The search engine business and web browser name this tool the Tracker Radar.
With the importance of blocking trackers, we're pleased to push this technology forward with the release of Tracker Radar, a best-in-class data set which can be used to make better tracker blockers (and powers our own) as well as research tracking:https://t.co/1nmLxrfWnj
— DuckDuckGo (@DuckDuckGo) March 5, 2020
For example, one of the most common lists used by blocking software, EasyList, includes almost 100,000 rules — URLs or strings that the blocker is instructed to look out for. This is a great resource, but also because it has been curated manually over several years.
Since DuckDuckGo releases the Tracker Radar software as open source software so that anyone can verify it, or even use it to build their own block list of trackers. Going beyond simply listing trackers, Tracker Radar often labels which trackers can break sites when blocked, so that browser makers and developers of plugins can build ways to work around this activity.
The data and its implementation are indicative of the increasing importance of privacy protection. The online ad industry is one of the largest infringers of privacy, creating people’s profiles to be more effective in targeting ads.
Apple has been pushing for better protection for quite some time. Now even the biggest online ad companies, Google and Facebook, say it’s a priority.