DuckDuckGo Launches New VPN Service as Google Shutters Its Own

DuckDuckGo VPN Credit: DuckDuckGo
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It’s been an interesting week for VPN services. Earlier this week, the well-known privacy-focused browser company DuckDuckGo announced the launch of a new VPN as part of its first subscription service. Then, in a surprising turn of events, Google announced that it would be shutting down its paid VPN service.

Although the timing of these developments is unlikely to be anything more than a mere coincidence — Google would certainly have no reason to bow to DuckDuckGo’s VPN — it’s still entertaining how these things line up sometimes.

In reality, DuckDuckGo is entering a crowded market of VPN services, while Google is throwing in the towel on a service that was likely never very popular in the first place. Besides, it’s not like abandoning services is anything new for the search giant; the list of products it’s killed off over the years is significantly longer than those that have actually stood the test of time.

Some of those were arguably far more popular and useful than Google’s erstwhile VPN service, a value-added service for Google One subscribers that likely never had much uptake.

Google launched its VPN service in 2020, but it was initially only available to Android devices. Google expanded it to iPhones two years ago, but only for those on Google’s highest $9.99/month Google One Premium plan. Last year, it dropped that requirement, making it available to Google One subscribers on all tiers, but clearly, that wasn’t enough to save it from the Google Graveyard.

In a statement to 9to5Google, the search giant said it was discontinuing the feature as it “found people simply weren’t using it” and would prefer to refocus the team on supporting other features that will appeal to more Google One subscribers. A final shutdown date for the VPN service has yet to be announced, with existing users directed to third-party VPN alternatives.

Enter DuckDuckGo ‘Privacy Pro’

In timing so serendipitous that some may wonder if Google’s plans leaked out, DuckDuckGo has just announced its first subscription service that bundles three privacy-focused features together — including a VPN.

Of course, there’s an argument to be made that anybody who trusted a VPN service from the world’s biggest hoover of information probably wasn’t the target market for an alternative, privacy-focused search engine. Nevertheless, DuckDuckGo will probably see some benefit from being one of the “third-party VPN alternatives” that Google One customers will soon be seeking out.

While the DuckDuckGo VPN is perhaps the marquee feature of the plucky little search company’s new offering, the Privacy One service also includes a Personal Information Removal tool and an Identity Theft Restoration service.

That last one is more like an insurance plan. It’s something that we hope most folks will never need, but if you find yourself in a situation where your accounts have been compromised, DuckDuckGo promises to set you up with a dedicated advisor to “help restore stolen accounts, assist in recovering resulting financial losses, and help correct your credit report.”

The Personal Information Removal tool is a more proactive feature that should help avoid that problem by ferreting out any personal details that are making the rounds on data broker sites that are in the business of selling your information to nearly any taker.

Compared to those two other benefits, DuckDuckGo’s VPN is rather run-of-the-mill. The company promises it’s entirely anonymous — something that should be table stakes for any decent VPN service — and fast and simple. A single subscription will let you secure up to five devices at once. There’s no separate app required; it’s available right in the DuckDuckGo browser, but the catch is that this one is more focused on privacy than bypassing geolocation restrictions. With servers in the US, Europe, and Canada, you can choose the one you want to use, but it’s still a much shorter list than many other VPN providers offer.

DuckDuckGo’s new Privacy Pro service is priced at $9.99/month or $99.99/year. It’s currently available only in the US, and you’ll need to be using the DuckDuckGo browser to take advantage of all of its features.

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