The Web is home to a never-ending game of cat and mouse between privacy advocates and a large number of advertisers. Web browsers have finally become more attentive and more forceful in protecting users by marking and even blocking trackers that are often used to identify and keep tabs on them. Some of these trackers, however, may not be enough, efficient, or even unbiased, which is why DuckDuckGo developed its own tracker data set and is now releasing it and its software for everyone and anyone to use to protect themselves online.
All tracker blockers fundamentally work in a similar fashion, relying on a list of trackers to block. The people behind the privacy-focused DuckDuckGo search engine find these lists to be lacking or even flawed for a variety of reasons. Some of these lists are manually created and curated, sometimes unable to keep up with the fast-paced developments and trends in tracking and Web technology. More importantly, some of those maintaining these lists may have vested interests in blocking some trackers but not others.
That’s why they developed the DuckDuckGo Tracker Radar to solve both problems. For one, the software automatically crawls and scans sites for the data, removing the need for direct human control or even bias. This means that the list can be generated and updated more regularly as well.
Additionally, DuckDuckGo is releasing the Tracker Radar software as open source software so anyone can validate or even use it to create their own tracker block list. Going beyond simply listing trackers, Tracker Radar also marks which trackers may break sites when blocked so that browser makers and plugin developers can create ways to workaround that behavior.
DuckDuckGo is inviting those software developers and even users to take its data set and software and use it in their own products. It may even be useful for researchers who are interested in studying the phenomenon of Web trackers. And those that can’t wait to use this data set for their everyday browsing can also use the group’s mobile Privacy Browsers or Privacy Essentials desktop extensions to immediately see the effects.