DuckDuckGo and Brave browsers protect against Google AMP pages

DuckDuckGo and Brave browsers protect against Google’s sneaky AMP pages [Updated]

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DuckDuckGo and Brave browsers protect against Google's sneaky AMP pages
Both Brave and DuckDuckGo have moved against AMP, one of the ways Google tracks users.
Image: Brave/DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo and Brave have started bypassing Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages. Brave says, “AMP harms users’ privacy, security and internet experience.”

The web browsers will ignore these pages, which are surreptitiously hosted by Google, and give users the original publishers’ webpages instead.

DuckDuckGo and Brave cut out Google AMP

Google AMP sends users webpages that look like they are on a publisher’s website but are actually on Google servers. The company says this is to speed up browsing, but AMP also helps it track users online activity.

But there are ways to avoid it. DuckDuckGo announced via Twitter, “Our apps & extensions now protect against Google AMP tracking.”

The feature is already broadly available. “When you load or share a Google AMP page anywhere from DuckDuckGo apps (iOS/Android/Mac) or extensions (Firefox/Chrome), the original publisher’s webpage will be used in place of the Google AMP version.”

And Brave is moving in this direction. “Brave is rolling out a new feature called De-AMP, which allows Brave users to bypass Google-hosted AMP pages, and instead visit the content’s publisher directly,” the company says in a blog post.

The feature is in beta now, and will be in version 1.38 for Mac when it’s released. And iOS support will be added “soon after.”

Obviously, Google’s own Chrome browser is never going to take a similar move. And at this point, Apple’s Safari browser serves users AMP pages, too.

Understanding Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages

Many times, when someone does a Google search then clicks on one of the results, they don’t get a web page from the publisher. Google has copied the contents of the page onto their servers, and sends you that instead.

As Brave explains it, “If you search for ‘new york times top stories’ on Google Search, google.com will preload most/all of the stories in the background (thus downloading unnecessary data on your device) and when you click a Top Story, the article will be served from google.com while making you believe you are on nytimes.com.”

This allows Google to track what links you click on in the AMP articles you read, furthering the profile it’s building on you. Google makes its money from ads, and collects personal information about all its users to sell to advertisers.

Google calls out ‘false claims’

A statement from a Google spokesperson sent to Cult of Mac says:

“These allegations are misleading, conflate a number of different web projects and standards, and repeat a number of false claims. Bypassing the AMP cache goes against the choice sites have made to deliver a fast, high quality experience for their visitors.

“AMP is an open source framework that was collaboratively developed with publishers, tech companies, and Google as a way to help web content load faster – at the time it was created, it took 19 seconds on average to load a mobile webpage on a 3G connection. Today, AMP continues to be a helpful way for websites and publishers – especially those without large development teams – to easily create great web experiences.”

Update: This article was updated with the statement from Google.