DuckDuckGo, renowned for its stance on user privacy, has recently unveiled a new service bundle dubbed “Privacy Pro.” This package integrates a VPN with personal information removal services and identity theft protection into DuckDuckGo’s browser app. However, this expansion into the already saturated VPN and browser market brings to light concerns about the company’s strategic direction and brand identity.

Expanding Too Far from Core Services?

DuckDuckGo has built its reputation on offering a privacy-centric search engine, standing in stark contrast to data-hungry competitors like Google. Over the years, they’ve added an email forwarding service and a web browser to their repertoire, maintaining a focus on protecting user data. The introduction of “Privacy Pro” marks another expansion, but this time, it just feels ‘meh.’

The new bundle attempts to address several privacy concerns, including VPN services, personal information removal, and identity theft protection. While these additions might seem like a natural extension of their privacy protection mission, they somewhat dilute the brand’s impact. The market is flooded with similar offerings, making it increasingly difficult to stand out without a clear and focused brand proposition.

Questionable Partnerships Raise Eyebrows

My primary concern isn’t just the expansion, but also the choice of partnerships that underpin the new VPN service. DuckDuckGo has chosen to use servers, a company owned by gaming giant Ubisoft. This is a perplexing choice, considering Ubisoft’s 10% ownership by CCP linked Tencent,1 who also has a stake in Reddit.2 Tencent is a company whose involvement in privacy-related controversies is well-noted. This connection is particularly alarming for privacy advocates who might expect DuckDuckGo to partner with entities that align more closely with its foundational privacy principles.

Technical Performance and User Experience

On a more positive note, the user interface of DuckDuckGo’s VPN service is commendably simple and efficient, catering well to those who prioritize ease of use. Performance-wise, the VPN impresses with high download speeds, peaking at 436Mbps during my tests. This indicates that while there may be concerns about the backend, users will not likely experience any compromise in performance.

Final Thoughts

Despite the technical strengths, DuckDuckGo’s venture into this crowded market segment with questionable partnerships might not resonate well with its user base, which primarily seeks uncompromised privacy. If DuckDuckGo wishes to truly enhance its offerings, perhaps a more robust expansion into email services or further development of their existing tools would be more in line with user expectations and their brand identity.

In conclusion, while “Privacy Pro” aims to offer comprehensive privacy tools, the actual value and alignment with DuckDuckGo’s core principles remain under scrutiny. As a long-time advocate for privacy, I find the lack of a focused brand strategy and questionable server partnerships to be major concerns, overshadowing the potential benefits of the new features. DuckDuckGo will need to tread carefully to maintain the trust and loyalty of its privacy-conscious users.

  1. Crecente, B. (2018, March 20). Vivendi sells all of its Ubisoft shares to Tencent and others. Rolling Stone.
  2. Kelly, K. J. (2019, February 15). Condé Nast’s hold on Reddit slips but Newhouse family has cushion. New York Post.


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