Brave and DuckDuckGo are pushing back against Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), bypassing the technology in their browsers and apps.
AMP is a framework developed and deployed by Google under the guise of helping webpages load faster, especially for mobile devices. When a user clicks on a search result, Google essentially pre-loads the web content, optimizes it, and then presents it to the user, with no visual indication the page is being served from Google’s servers instead of the publisher’s. Both Brave and DuckDuckGo’s web browsers will now work to de-AMP web pages, serving up the publisher’s original site instead of Google’s AMP version.
Brave outlines their approach in a blog post:
Brave will protect users from AMP in several ways. Where possible, De-AMP will rewrite links and URLs to prevent users from visiting AMP pages altogether. And in cases where that is not possible, Brave will watch as pages are being fetched and redirect users away from AMP pages before the page is even rendered, preventing AMP/Google code from being loaded and executed.
DuckDuckGo is taking similar measures with their web browser, as well as all of their apps and browser extensions:
NEW: our apps & extensions now protect against Google AMP tracking. 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.
DuckDuckGo (@DuckDuckGo), April 19, 2022
There are a number of reasons why both companies are pushing back and adopting this approach. First and foremost, privacy is one of the biggest casualties of AMP, as Brave points out:
AMP gives Google an even broader view of which pages people view on the Web, and how people interact with them. AMP encourages developers to more tightly integrate with Google servers and systems, and penalizes publishers with decreased search rankings and placements if they don’t, further allowing Google to track and profile users.
AMP is also a security nightmare since users aren’t clearly informed that they are browsing a website from Google’s servers, and not from the site’s publishers. This, in turn, gives Google far more control, increasing their monopolization of the web. As Brave points out, AMP doesn’t even deliver the performance improvements Google touts.
It’s hard not to see AMP, and its upcoming successor, as an unabashed attempt by Google to further control the future of the web. Thankfully, companies like Brave and DuckDuckGo are continuing to fight back.