Airtel, Jio Seen Blocking Access to DuckDuckGo Privacy-Focused Search Engine

DuckDuckGo app is not working either Airtel mobile or broadband connection.

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Airtel, Jio Seen Blocking Access to DuckDuckGo Privacy-Focused Search Engine

DuckDuckGo is working with Airtel broadband connections on PCs for some users

Highlights
  • Airtel and Reliance Jio is yet to acknowledge the issue with DuckDuckGo
  • Last year Reliance Jio blocked Telegram Web without any notice
  • DuckDuckGo is a privacy-oriented search engine

DuckDuckGo, the privacy-oriented search engine site appears to be blocked in India. The development was spotted after several users over the Internet pointed out that they were unable to access the website on their PCs and smartphones via Airtel and Reliance Jio mobile networks. The block is also reported on Airtel broadband connections. Gadgets 360 has reached out to both Airtel and Reliance Jio for more details over this matter.

The US-based DuckDuckGo seems to be blocked days after the government banned 59 Chinese apps in India. The government had said the apps posed a risk to India's security and were prejudicial to the country's sovereignty and integrity. However, neither the government nor telco operators like Airtel and Reliance Jio have clarified the reasons for blocking DuckDuckGo in India.

Meanwhile, DuckDuckGo acknowledged getting user reports about the issue and noted that the disruption was not from its end. The search engine also said that it was working with ISPs to understand why it was not accessible to some users.  

Following this development, several users took to social media platforms, expressing anger against what seems like an arbitrary decision. The Internet Shutdowns watchdog handle run by the Software Freedom Law Centre tweeted that it was unable to access the DuckDuckGo website on Airtel India connections.

Several users also took to Reddit after they were unable to use DuckDuckGo on their PCs and smartphones via Airtel and Jio connections.

At Gadgets 360, some team members were able to access the DuckDuckGo website on their Airtel broadband and mobile connections, while others were not able to. Neither the mobile website nor the mobile app worked on Airtel mobile connections or broadband networks. "A server with the specified hostname could not be found," the app showed. The website was accessible by us on Jio Fiber and Jio mobile connections as well, apart from Vodafone mobile connections. As mentioned, Gadgets 360 has reached out to both Airtel and Reliance Jio for more details over this matter, including how some users are able to access the website, while others are not.

Meanwhile, several users have pointed out that the privacy-focused search engine worked with VPN.

This is not the first time telcos are found to be blocking privacy-oriented platforms in the country. Last year, Reliance Jio arbitrarily blocked access to Telegram website. The Mukesh Ambani-led company had also blocked VPN and proxy websites in India.

Editor's Note: Updated to include DuckDuckGo's response. 


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Abhik Sengupta Abhik Sengupta writes about smartphones and tablets for Gadgets 360, out of Delhi. Abhik is working as a sub-editor for Gadgets 360 and has also frequently written about mobile apps and data privacy. Abhik is available on Twitter at @abhiksengupta and can be reached out on abhiks@ndtv.com. More
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