DuckDuckGo Takes Great Leap Forward In The Battle For Online Privacy

DuckDuckGo has seen an exponential increase in traffic as it continues to stand up for privacy by implementing Global Privacy Control

The decisions and choices we make now on how we operate online will decide the outlook of the digital landscape for decades to come. Protocols and standards we implement and attribute value to at this juncture will dictate what is tolerated in the future. One such standard is privacy; specifically our privacy online. Privacy should be a right by default, but it’s long been taken for granted on the internet. Worse so, it’s been abused by those who once espoused that they would protect it. Big Tech, and many of their related services have increasingly breached the inherit trust of their users by using their data without their consent.

These breaches haven’t gone unnoticed. Globally, in the last few years, many governments have made steps toward protecting their citizens privacy by introducing various laws to tackle privacy breaches; GDPR, CCPA, LGPD to name a few. If you live in a territory that benefits from one of these, you’ve certainly noticed changes to your general browsing experience – Long forms to fill out on blogs, intrusive pop-ups before you can view websites – it can be daunting. Moreover, many websites make use of Dark Patterns to bypass these laws, and grab your data without your consent regardless. To combat this issue, Global Privacy Control (GPC) was formed – with DuckDuckGo as one of it’s founding members.

Global Privacy Control

Global Privacy Control

Global Privacy Control is a new web standard, and it’s members make up some of the biggest names in online privacy – DuckDuckGo, Brave Privacy Browser, Abine, Disconnect, and more.

Rather than clicking through tedious forms, or even being forced to opt-in without consent, the GPC approaches the problem with a global and by-default solution. In shorts, a user would use a platform which has GPC built in, enable the global switch, and the browser will then send the GPC signal via the browser to whichever website is being visited. It’s a hands-off method for the end user, where they get to exercise their rights to digital privacy without the need for legwork.

Beneath the hood, the implementation is simple enough. With GPC enabled when you visit a website, there will be a ‘Sec-GPC header‘ the website will be able to read. If the value is read as ‘Sec-GPC-field-value = “1”‘ , it means the user has revoked all permissions for their data to be sold to third parties. Giving users the ability to easily control their privacy like this is just the first step to ensuring that privacy can remain a given right, and not something taken from us so easily.

Implementation of GPC by DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo has long been an advocate for online privacy , since their foundation in 2008. Being a founding member of GPC, an implementation was expected. In late January 2021, DuckDuckGo announced that they would be implementing GPC in their apps and extensions.

With it enabled, DuckDuckGo users will automatically exercise their opt-out under legislation such as the CCPA and GDPR.

The implementation of GPC is a welcome addition to DuckDuckGo’s toolkit, which already boasts a number of privacy policies; including protecting it’s users from being profiled in their search results, and compatibility with TOR.


The new changes come to DuckDuckGo at a time when privacy is once again in the spotlight – WhatsApp made headlines as it changed it’s privacy policy and caused users to flock en masse to alternative services such as Signal and Telegram. Facebook, who have owned WhatsApp for a number of years, already have their hands full with Apple – who recently made steps themselves to give their users more control over their privacy by default, which would affect personalized advertising. Apple’s decision caused Facebook to lash out, and they went as far as taking out full page ads in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post criticizing the move.

DuckDuckGo as a rival to Google

DuckduckGo v Google

For better or worse, Google has been become the leading authority in the search engine game and how we browse – So much so that their name has become classified as a verb meaning to search the world wide web.

DuckDuckGo is one of many alternative search engines to Google, but due to their emphasis on privacy, they have pulled ahead of the competition. Online privacy, once only a concern of the most die-hard techies, makes headlines more frequently as the years roll on. This can be seen in DuckDuckGo’s traffic – in 2020, they received 23 billion search queries. 2019 saw 15 billion queries, and the previous year saw 9 billion – a growth rate which is nothing less than exponential.

It is not known exactly how many people use DuckDuckGo; due to their rigid privacy rules they don’t know themselves, but their future, and the future of user’s privacy globally, is looking bright.

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