Home Tech DuckDuckGo is taking its privacy fight to data brokers

DuckDuckGo is taking its privacy fight to data brokers

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DuckDuckGo is taking its privacy fight to data brokers

Under the hood, things are more complex. Greg Fiorentino, director of product at DuckDuckGo, says that when you enter your personal data into the system, it is all saved in an encrypted database on your computer (the tool does not work on mobile devices) and the company does not receive this information. . “It doesn’t go to the DuckDuckGo servers at all,” he says.

For each of the data brokers’ websites, Fiorentino says, DuckDuckGo analyzed its URL structure: For example, search results may include the name, location, and other personal information being queried. When the personal information tool searches for you on these websites, it constructs a URL with the details you have entered.

“Each of the 53 sites we cover has a slightly different structure,” Fiorentino says. “We have a template URL string that we substitute user data into to search. “There are a lot of different nuances and things we need to be able to handle to match the data correctly.”

During testing, the company says, it found that most people have between 15 and 30 records on the data broker sites it checks, although the highest was around 150. Weinberg says it added six addresses to remove from the websites. “I found hits on old stuff, and even at the current address, which I really tried to hide a little bit to avoid spam, it’s somehow still available,” Weinberg says. “It’s really difficult to keep your information from getting out.”

Once the log scan is complete, the DuckDuckGo system, using a similar deconstruction of each of the data broker websites, will automatically request that the logs be deleted, says the team working on the product. Fiorentino says some cancellations will occur within hours, while others may take weeks to delete data. The product manager says that in the future, the tool will be able to remove data from more websites, and the company is considering including more sensitive data in opt-outs, such as financial information.

There are several personal information removal services on the web and they may vary in what they remove from websites or the services they provide. Not everyone is trustworthy. Recently, Mozilla, the maker of the Firefox browser, stopped working with identity protection service Onerep after an investigative journalist Brian Krebs revealed that the founder of Onerep also founded dozens of people search websites in recent years.

DuckDuckGo’s subscription service marks the first time the company has started charging for a product: its browser and search engine are free to use, and the company makes money from contextual ads. Weinberg says that because subscriptions are purchased through Apple’s App Store, Google Play, or with payment provider Stripe, details about who is subscribing are not transferred to DuckDuckGo’s servers. A random ID is created for each user when they sign up, so people don’t have to create an account or give DuckDuckGo their payment information. The company says it does not have access to people’s Apple IDs or Google account details.

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