DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials Safari Extension

If you wish to increase your level of browser privacy you may want to consider the DuckDuckGo extension for Safari. This will give each website you visit a privacy grade and also block tracking on websites.

Video Transcript
So with all the talk today about internet privacy you may be wondering how you can protect your privacy while surfing online. Using Safari is a great option right off the bat because it's going to do some privacy protections by, you know, preventing these tracking networks from tracking you from day to day. This is something you won't get for instance from Goggle Chrome because, of course, Goggle Chrome is tied to Goggle's ad networks so it's kind of against their interest to do that. Safari gives you that but what can you do that's even more than that.

There are Safari extensions that will help with privacy as well. Let's take a look at one. So I'm going to go to Safari, Safari Extensions, and you can search here for DuckDuckGo or in this case it's right on page two. There's DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials. Let's take a look at that one. I'm going to it the Install Now button. Now DuckDuckGo you may recognize because they're a search engine. As a matter of fact if I go to Safari Preferences and I look at Search you could see it's one of the Search Engines I can choose as the default.

Now once I've installed the Privacy Essentials I get a little button up here with a letter in it like C. Let's go to another site. Let's go to Apple's Home Page here and you can see it has B in there. If I click on that I get a little report of how privacy is kind of graded on this page. It looks at a bunch of things. One, it looks to see if there's encryption on the page. In other words it's an HTTPS site rather than a HTTP, which is unencrypted. It's going to get a pretty bad grade if it's not encrypted. Then it looks at Tracker Networks Found. In this case zero were found. Apple doesn't have any ads on their own site and they're not doing any special tracking like using third party networks to track statistics or anything. So there's nothing there.

The only thing to keep it from getting an A is Unknown Privacy Practices. It looks like almost every website, I can't find a single website except the DuckDuckGo website itself, that will actually have something here. So it looks like there is some sort of system that nobody is really using yet. So a B is the highest grade that I can see, outside of the DuckDuckGo website, anywhere. As a matter of fact if I even go to Wikipedia, which doesn't use anything really, it's secure, there's no tracker network, and all of that, it still just gets a B. So B seems to be pretty much the highest grade you can expect.

So let's do another site here. Let's go to MacMost. You can see MacMost also gets a B. If I click there notice a few things. First it says Enhanced From C to B. What does that mean? Well, this extension is doing more than just giving you a grade. It's also blocking tracker networks. So tracker networks are things that basically store a cookie and kind of track you. It's blocking one tracker network at MacMost and by doing so it's enhancing the grade from a C to a B. If tracking is turned off, and I can do that with this switch right here, then it would be a C grade.

Now you can get more information about the tracker network. In this case it's just a tracker network that's tracking statistics for me for the newsletter. So how many people are clicking on links for the newsletter. It's not doing what the concerning trackers are. You know the ones that invade your privacy by tracking your preferences and serving up ads and things like that. This is just statistics for the website owner. As a matter of fact there's a few on here. If I refresh the page maybe it will pick them up. Yes, now it says two. You can see it's also showing Goggle Analytics which is just statistics. How many people visit each page on the site and youtube which is how many people are viewing each video. So these are pretty harmless compared to say ad networks.

Let's take a look at my local newspaper here which I know has a lot of ads on it. It also shows a B but it's enhanced from a D to a B. It's blocking nine tracker networks and you can see these are a lot of them are things that are tracking your advertising preferences and things like that. So you're getting information here about the grade and you're also getting these tracker networks being blocked. Which is nice and enhances your privacy. If you decide that by blocking these tracker networks that it's somehow disabling something on the website or messing with the website which is possible. Anytime something is blocking something on a website it could be doing it in a fashion that disables the site. So you can always turn off blocking and now you can see by doing so it reloads the page and it gives the grade of D now. I can always click here for Settings and under Settings I can see it's a Whitelisted Site now. So I can turn it off so now that site is no longer, you know, it's going back to blocking the tracking on that site as it was before.

Extensions like this are easy to install. You saw how easy it was. In addition it's also easy to disable by going to Preferences, going to Extensions, and I can turn it off. I can also hit the Uninstall button very easily. So you can give this a try. See if this is something you want going on. One of the things I don't like about it is it seems to reset your searches. So I'm always searching through DuckDuckGo even if my default search engine is Goggle. I don't like that because while I do like DuckDuckGo for the privacy stuff I really want to see what Goggle is showing when I'm doing some research for things. So there are pros and cons there.

Comments: 16 Responses to “DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials Safari Extension”

    Ravi
    4/17/18 @ 12:10 pm

    Hello Gary, regarding this extension, I have always used DDG as my default search in Safari and FF. After your video I installed this extension as well. Just one point to note: if you so to Safari Preferences>Extensions>DDG extension, there is an option there to check/uncheck “make DDG your default search engine”. This should probably address your comments about it becoming default though you prefer Google :)

    Daniel, DuckDuckGo
    4/17/18 @ 9:34 pm

    Thanks much for the detailed walkthrough of our extension.

    To clarify about the privacy grade, the privacy practices part uses data from a non-profit called “Terms of Service; Didn’t Read” ( https://tosdr.org/ ) which simplifies and grades website terms & privacy policies.

    This is a manual process requiring legal expertise so therefore very resource-intensive and time-consuming. We’re trying to support them to improve website coverage.

    Patrick Mc Namee
    4/19/18 @ 10:33 am

    Everyone should watch this video

    Alan
    4/19/18 @ 1:20 pm

    Good video. Gary, how do you think Safari rates versus Firefox in terms of privacy. I love Safari, but have been experimenting with FF. However, having all Apple products, I miss the integration of Safari. Love to hear your thoughts. Thanks.

    4/19/18 @ 2:07 pm

    Alan: I don’t use Firefox very much, so it is hard for me to keep up with their changes. Safari is pretty good for privacy with the website tracking prevention and per-site settings.

    Bill W
    4/19/18 @ 3:54 pm

    Gary, have you ever used startpage.com to get Google results minus the tracking?

    4/19/18 @ 4:05 pm

    Bill: Interesting. I can’t see the advantage to just using Google in a private browsing window, though. And I can’t figure out how it is legal that this company can take Google results and use them like that.

    Bill W
    4/19/18 @ 4:21 pm

    I have Startpage as an extension in Safari and ticked as my default search engine.

    Peter W
    4/20/18 @ 4:59 am

    After installing in Safari, I found and installed the DDG Privacy Essentials for Google Chrome. Seems to work the same way…

    MRR
    4/20/18 @ 5:11 pm

    Went to facebook.com and unsurprisingly DDG rated privacy as “BAD” with a red X.

    Karl
    4/21/18 @ 10:23 am

    Gary, does this work with IPads and iPhones?

    4/21/18 @ 10:57 am

    Karl: No, this is a Mac Safari extension. On iOS, they have an app that provides you with a separate browser you can use if you like.

    Jan Franklin
    4/21/18 @ 11:51 am

    in Safari’s Preferences > Extensions, DDG’s privacy considerations include…can read sensitive info from web pages, including passwords, phone numbers, & credit cards on all webpages … should this give me pause?

    4/21/18 @ 12:14 pm

    Jan: I believe that they need this permission to be able to block those things. DuckDuckGo is pretty well-known. If they were violating people’s privacy it would be a huge scandal that we’d all know about. Read up on them at their site and they have lots of details about themselves.

    jasper
    4/23/18 @ 1:10 am

    Safari (no pop-ups allowed) +DDG is my default but I need to use Chrome (with pop-ups enabled…so bad for security as well as privacy!) for a cranky web-based system. I use this Terminal command:

    open -a 'Google Chrome' https://crankysystem.com

    For extra convenience, I have an Automator app in iCloud with this line in the ‘Run Shell Script’ Action. Reminders pops up each month and includes a local link to the app (file:///…). I tap the link and Chrome opens on the crankysystem page.

    4/23/18 @ 7:43 am

    jasper: Why the elaborate method for launching Chrome like that? Why not just make that “Cranky System” page the home page in Chrome and launch Chrome normally? And why are pop-ups bad for security in this case? If you are only going to that one page with Chrome, what difference can that make — assuming that the site isn’t using pop-ups that risk your security? And if that site does uses pop-ups that are somehow risking your security (not sure how) then why go to it at all?

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