CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

DuckDuckGo Offers a VPN and More in New Privacy Subscription Service

Residents of the US can subscribe to the service now.

Zachary McAuliffe Staff writer
Zach began writing for CNET in November, 2021 after writing for a broadcast news station in his hometown, Cincinnati, for five years. You can usually find him reading and drinking coffee or watching a TV series with his wife and their dog.
Expertise Web hosting | Operating systems | Applications | Software Credentials
  • Apple software beta tester, "Helps make our computers and phones work!" - Zach's grandparents
Zachary McAuliffe
4 min read
The DuckDuckGo logo showing a duck

For the first time, DuckDuckGo now offers a privacy subscription service.


The privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo on Thursday introduced a new privacy protection subscription service called DuckDuckGo Privacy Pro. One subscription gives you three new DuckDuckGo services: a VPN and two tools called Personal Information Removal and Identity Theft Restoration.

DuckDuckGo said similar protections could cost you more than $30 a month if purchased separately, but Privacy Pro costs $10 per month or $100 annually. Privacy Pro is available in the US for iOS, Android, Mac and Windows users. DuckDuckGo said it plans to offer this service to other regions in the future.

Here's what you should know about Privacy Pro's features.


A phone and laptop showing the DuckDuckGo VPN option

DuckDuckGo wrote in a blog post that its VPN offers full-device protection on up to five devices at once. The company also said it has a no-logging policy, which means it doesn't store any data that could connect you to your online activity or any other DuckDuckGo service. It's important to note that all the VPNs we recommend have strict no-logging policies, although you can -- and should -- be skeptical of these claims. Virtual private network providers undergo third-party audits to verify zero-log claims. DuckDuckGo told CNET in an email that a third-party audit is currently in progress. The company said no significant issues have been found at this time, but a full report will be made available once the audit is complete.

"To encrypt your traffic and route it through a VPN server, we use the open-source WireGuard protocol, which is fast and secure," DuckDuckGo CEO and Founder Gabriel Weinberg said. "We also route your DNS queries automatically through the VPN connection to our own DNS resolvers, which further hides your browsing history from your ISP."

DuckDuckGo said it has VPN servers in the US, Canada and Europe, and it plans to add more in the future.

Read more: The Best VPN Services of 2024 Tested by Our Experts

Personal Information Removal

A laptop showing DuckDuckGo's Personal Information Removal menu

There is a whole digital ecosystem around the collection, aggregation and use of your personal data -- like your address, marital status and phone numbers -- by data brokers and people-finder sites. While data brokers say your information is anonymized, a study published in Nature Communications found that with 15 demographic data points, a person could be identified with a 99.98% certainty. 

But DuckDuckGo said Privacy Pro's Personal Information Removal feature works to remove this data from those sites.

"We scan dozens of these sites for your info and, if found, request its removal, even handling back-and-forth confirmation emails for you automatically behind the scenes," Weinberg wrote. 

Personal Information Removal will continue rescanning data brokers or person-finder sites even after your information has been deleted. 

However, according to McAfee, some data brokers don't allow third parties to request that information be deleted on a person's behalf, so you might have to request the information to be removed on your own. DuckDuckGo does say its Personal Information Removal feature will show you the status of requests it makes on your behalf, so if one request doesn't go through, you should at least know where to direct your inquiry.

Read more: What you Should Know About Data Brokers and Personal Data Deletion Services

Identity Theft Restoration

A smartphone and a laptop showing DuckDuckGo's Identity Theft Restoration menu

DuckDuckGo partnered with Iris Powered by Generali, an identity and cyber protection service, to help you if your identity is stolen. So in the event of identity theft, Iris will collect information about your situation and may offer to assist you in several ways, like covering out-of-pocket costs or even helping you cancel and replace your sensitive documents.

DuckDuckGo does note that no personal information is shared between it and Iris, and you just need to contact an Iris adviser if your identity is stolen or you need help.

Weinberg said that DuckDuckGo's goal is to make multi-faceted, best-in-class protection more accessible, and Privacy Pro seems to be another step toward that goal. These privacy features should give people more layers of protection, as well as the means to combat any breaches of that privacy.

"Millions of people already rely on our browser for seamless overlapping protections while they search, browse and email," Weinberg said. "Adding Privacy Pro further expands this privacy layer … all in one simple package."

What this means for DuckDuckGo's business

While Privacy Pro is DuckDuckGo's first time charging for a product, its $10 per month price tag should allow the company to continue to be the privacy-focused search engine it claims to be while offering more privacy options.

For years, DuckDuckGo has offered its privacy tools for free and made money through search ads. That means if you use DuckDuckGo to search for a car, you might see ads about cars. These are generalized ads, not the weird personalized ads you might see if you look up a shirt one day and then see ads for that shirt on every website you visit.

Privacy and security on the internet
James Martin/CNET

"We are profitable based on these nonprofiling search ads alone," the company wrote online

However, Weinberg said that there's only so much protection that can be provided through this kind of business mode, and that's why the company is charging for the features offered in Privacy Pro.

"Some protections, like securing our users' network connections with a VPN, require significantly more bandwidth and other resources," Weinberg said.

This paid plan should also allow DuckDuckGo to remain a privacy-focused search engine. By offering Privacy Pro as a paid service, DuckDuckGo can continue to offer its other services, like its email protection service, at no charge. So, while $10 per month might sound like a lot, what you're buying is additional privacy features and the peace of mind that your data isn't going to be floating around online for malicious actors to take advantage of. I'm hoping DuckDuckGo will be able to provide even more privacy features to more people with this additional revenue stream.

For more on DuckDuckGo, here's what to know about the privacy-focused search engine and five reasons why you should use it. You can also check out our best VPNs of 2024.

Watch this: Top 5 Reasons to Use a VPN