DuckDuckGo Announces Free, Private Access to Some AI Chatbots

The company said it will let users chat with ChatGPT 3.5 Turbo, Claude 3 Haiku and more, without worrying about their data being used to train models.

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On Thursday, DuckDuckGo, the company behind the privacy-focused search engine, announced DuckDuckGo AI Chat, a free, optional and anonymous way to access four popular generative AI chatbots. The company said with AI Chat, you'll be able to access OpenAI's GPT 3.5 Turbo, Anthropic's Claude 3 Haiku, Meta Llama 3 and Mistral's Mixtral 8x7B now, and it plans on adding access to other chatbot models in the future.

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The company cited a Pew poll showing 81% of people surveyed think AI's usage by companies will lead to a person's personal information being used in ways they aren't comfortable with. Further, the poll indicates 80% of respondents think AI's role in data collection will lead to unintended consequences.

These concerns aren't unfounded. A study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that AI chatbots, like ChatGPT, could compromise a person's medical records, and, unless safeguards are put in place, "AI chatbots will continue to compromise data security and privacy."

To combat concerns like this, DuckDuckGo anonymizes the AI chats. The company inserts itself between the user and the models, removing your IP address from chats and replacing it with DuckDuckGo's address instead. 

DuckDuckGo writes in its AI Chat privacy policy that it won't store any chat information, but the model provider, like OpenAI, might. However, because the queries will appear to originate from DuckDuckGo, that information won't be personally identifiable. 

"The underlying model providers may store chats temporarily, but there's no way for them to tie chats back to you, personally, since all metadata is removed," DuckDuckGo wrote online. 

DuckDuckGo's AI Chat menu

You can privately chat with different AI models with DuckDuckGo AI Chat.


DuckDuckGo also wrote that it has an agreement with the model providers to delete all saved chats within 30 days of their creation. The company said that this agreement also ensures that "none of the chats made on our platform can be used to train or improve the models."

While AI Chat is free, it does have a daily usage limit. The company told CNET in an email that it isn't sharing what that limit is at this time as a precaution against bad actors and misuse. DuckDuckGo did say a typical user probably won't exceed the limit, but if someone does, the company asks that they share their feedback via the Share Feedback button in AI Chat. 

DuckDuckGo also said it is considering a paid version of AI Chat that would raise this daily limit and provide access to more costly AI models. The more powerful the AI model, the more expensive it is to run, which is why many AI tools offer paid access to more sophisticated tools in addition to their free versions.

For now, though, if you want to try AI Chat, you can go to duck.ai or duckduckgo.com/chat. You'll be asked to pick which AI model you want to chat with and then you're set. You can switch models later by clicking the model name in the chat's left-hand toolbar and selecting another model. You can clear a chat by clicking the flame icon to the left of the text bar. 

You can also disable AI Chat at any time by going to Search settings menu and clicking the button next to AI Chat.

For more on DuckDuckGo, here's what to know about the privacy-focused search engine and five reasons you should switch to it. You can also check out what to know about ChatGPT 3.5 and Claude AI.

Editors' note: CNET used an AI engine to help create several dozen stories, which are labeled accordingly. The note you're reading is attached to articles that deal substantively with the topic of AI but are created entirely by our expert editors and writers. For more, see our AI policy.

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