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Dominik

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DuckDuckGo Essential Review

Despite the somewhat frivolous name, DuckDuckGo is by far the most mature example of how you can have a quality Internet search engine without throwing everyone’s privacy down the gutter. Following that train of thought, the DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials extension for Chrome shakes Google out of the popular browser with the goal of delivering a more secure, fully anonymous surfing experience. Do people still say surfing?

Understanding why DuckDuckGo exists

Anyway, while its humble beginnings saw it function as a little more than a Google proxy, twelve years of hard work resulted in a largely standalone app that does an excellent job of making sense of the World Wide Web on your behalf, all the while not selling your search history sooner than you can say “microtargeting” – or at all.

The Privacy Essentials plugin is an extension of that idea as it allows you to easily take your online privacy concerns safeguards to the next level, starting with anti-tracking functionality that blocks a wide variety of invasive cookies and other forms of data harvesting.

In this regard, it can operate as a more articulate version, straightforward version of NoScript and similar browser extensions that allow you to squash third-party trackers in their infancy, so to speak. But instead of manually blocking, unblocking, or otherwise fiddling with scripts whenever you visit a new domain, DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials is quite good at figuring out what is and isn’t required for you to maximize the usefulness of each and every one of your website visits.

A great way to complement your VPN subscription – for free

Keep in mind that DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials is neither a proxy nor a VPN, but a browser plugin meant to be used alongside either or both. When it comes to data anonymity and security, it helps out in various ways, like by automatically forcing HTTPS versions of websites irrespectively of any cache-side protests.

DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials also comes with an integrated privacy grading service that assigns a rating to every website domain you visit. This score, simply called Privacy Grade, isn’t meant to be an end-all, be-all metric of how any particular website fares in regards to user privacy protections compared to any other. The fact that isn’t even denoted as a numerical value but instead follows the A-F school grading system should speak plenty of its intent.

Because DuckDuckGo understands that stronger privacy protections begin with accountability and significantly more informed user corpus. So when it e.g. gives Facebook an F, that grade isn’t there to criticize Zuckerberg’s spying apparatus but remind you that this abomination exists. Of course, the Privacy Grade feature is also pretty convenient when you’re navigating otherwise completely unknown parts of the Internet.

This Chromium-based extension is hence meant to maximize your privacy while minimizing your personal time investment necessary for doing so. Which is pretty much the perfect antidote for the modern Internet era seeing how we’re way past the outrage phase by now. If you’re tired of keeping up with all of Google and Facebook’s data-devouring practices but refuse to give in, DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials has the potential to fundamentally change your experience and enjoyment of perusing the Internet.

Come to the quack side

Ultimately, if online privacy is a concern of yours by any order of magnitude, both the DuckDuckGo search engine and its Privacy Essentials Chrome extension are solutions you’re likely to find worthy of experimentation. If nothing else, they help you to enjoy a more pure, vanilla version of Chrome free of many of its most privacy-invasive elements, all the while keeping most independent data-harvesting cookie spyware at bay. Quite a feat for a bit of JavaScript code with a beak.

 

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