National Advertising Division Finds Challenged DuckDuckGo Privacy Claims Supported; Recommends Clarifications for Use of App

For Immediate Release
Contact: Abby Hills, Director of Communications, BBB National Programs

703.247.9330 / press@bbbnp.org

New York, NY – June 23, 2022 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs determined that DuckDuckGo provided a reasonable basis for:

  • The claim that its Privacy Browser mobile app and Privacy Essentials desktop extension (together the “App”) is the “best, quickest and easiest step you can take for your privacy health,” when, in context the claim refers to being the most comprehensive all-in-one out of the box solution; and
  • The message that it does not share consumer personal data with third parties.

 

However, NAD recommended that to ensure consumers understand the scope of DuckDuckGo’s privacy protections, DuckDuckGo should modify the challenged advertising to make clear that the App’s protection does not extend to the use of search engines and apps outside of the DuckDuckGo solution. 

DuckDuckGo offers its App that allows users to have a search experience that empowers them to take control of their personal information online by not saving or sharing personal information with third parties, affording users encrypted searches, and blocking trackers.

The claims at issue were challenged by NAD as part of its independent routine monitoring of truth and transparency in U.S. national advertising. Specifically, NAD examined DuckDuckGo’s potentially overbroad online privacy protection claims, the accuracy of which consumers may not be able to assess on their own. 

The challenged claim, “best, quickest and easiest step you can take for your privacy health,” appears in an animated YouTube video. NAD determined that DuckDuckGo provided a reasonable basis that the three forms of protection identified in the video—encryption, tracker blocking, and private search—are its key components to safeguard consumers’ privacy.  

Further, NAD determined that DuckDuckGo provided a reasonable basis for the challenged claim that its App is the “best, quickest and easiest step you can take for your privacy health,” as it does not require consumers to reconfigure their computer or purchase additional features. In so finding, NAD noted that although the three biggest competitors of DuckDuckGo can be customized to protect against all three privacy threats, none do so straight out of the box. 

NAD also determined that DuckDuckGo provided a reasonable basis for the message reasonably conveyed by the video that it does not share a consumer’s personal data with third parties. 

Finally, NAD found that the video, which calls out the collection of data through websites and browser searches as well as mobile apps and “every product Google and Facebook release,” suggests that DuckDuckGo is the solution to the problems depicted. In this context, the claim that DuckDuckGo protects consumers' “privacy health” “no matter where the Internet takes” them reasonably conveys the message that DuckDuckGo protects against all forms of privacy intrusion depicted in the video, even intrusions outside of the App.

Because the App’s protections are not available to a consumer using apps on his/her phone outside of the App, NAD recommended that DuckDuckGo modify the challenged advertising to make clear that the App’s protection does not extend to the use of search engines and apps outside of the DuckDuckGo solution.

In its advertiser statement, DuckDuckGo stated that it “supports NAD’s mission of voluntary self-regulation of advertising and agrees to comply with NAD’s recommendation.”

All BBB National Programs case decision summaries can be found in the case decision library. For the full text of NAD, NARB, and CARU decisions, subscribe to the online archive.


 

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