Brave and DuckDuckGo now let you block Google’s article tracking

Google logo and DuckDuckGos logo

Illustration: Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / Getty / Wikimedia Commons / Fair Use (Getty Images)

When Google first launched its Accelerated Mobile Page (or AMP) protocol back in 2015, the search firm promised that the technology would bring faster browsing to handheld gadgets everywhere. That may be the case, but what has also become clear in recent years is that AMP has become less about speed and more about give up more power and more user data for a data-swallowing giant.

“AMP technology is bad for privacy because it allows Google to track users even more (which is already a ton),” search engine DuckDuckGo tweeted on Tuesday.

It was only a matter of time before some major players in the technology field figured out a way to get around it.

This is exactly what we saw this week when the privacy experts at Brave and DuckDuckGo announced two separate initiatives that would undermine the extra tracking that Google brings in on AMP-enabled web pages. Brave’s new feature, called “De-AMP”, will be enabled “by default” in the desktop and Android versions of its browser of the same name (with iOS functionality in works), according to a corporate blog posted Tuesday afternoon. Not long after the post went up, DuckDuckGo took to Twitter to advertise that all of its apps and extensions would also protect against AMP tracking.

Google uses AMP to further anchor its monopoly and force technology on publishers by prioritizing AMP links in search and favoring Google ads on AMP pages,DuckDuckGo tweeted.

In that respect, the company is absolutely right. While there is full complaint about AMP as you can read elsewherewhat you need to know is that AMP enabled sites are the ones where Google controls 99% of the embedded analytics and advertising technology by design – which means that when these pieces of software swallow your data, it goes directly into Google’s hands. You have probably come across one of these sites when you try to open e.g. a story on some cool news site, instead of opening a Google URL that hosts that story.

DuckDuckGo’s tweet did not elaborate on how it plans to circumvent that technology, though Gizmodo has contacted for further details. The company’s tweet simply said that when a person loads a Google AMP-enabled page using a DuckDuckGo app or browser extension, “the original publisher’s webpage will be used instead of the Google AMP version.”

Brave, meanwhile, offered a clearer picture of how De-AMP is expected to work. “Where possible,” the company explained in its blog, the browser will “rewrite links and URLs,” to prevent users from landing on these Google-fied versions of pages altogether. When this is not possible, the Brave browser will see web pages for potential AMP-coded code on the site – if detected, it will stop loading the current page and redirect users to the “true” version of this site, even before the page is even fully rendered.

“An ethical web should be a user-first web where users have control over their browsing and are aware of who they are communicating with,” Brave wrote in his blog. Hopefully this new update will make it a little easier.