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Google claps back at Brave, DuckDuckGo over latest privacy debate

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Google has hit out at Brave and DuckDuckGo over recent service updates designed to undermine the divisive AMP initiative.

Earlier this week, the two privacy software vendors announced new browser functionality that allows users to bypass AMP, which they say is harmful to privacy and the economics of the web. However, Google has now moved to dismiss these criticisms.

“These allegations are misleading, conflate a number of different web projects and standards, and repeat a number of false claims,” said a Google spokesperson, in an email exchange with TechRadar Pro.

Google AMP

Rolled out in 2015, AMP (short for accelerated mobile pages) is a system whereby stripped-back versions of trending web pages are preloaded and served up via Google servers.

When AMP was first announced, Google said it believed the system would help ensure rich web content such as video and animation would load rapidly and behave consistently across all platforms, thereby improving the web experience.

However, the scheme has come under criticism from publishers and privacy advocates alike, who say AMP gives Google yet more signals to gobble up in support of its digital advertising business, creates confusion as to the source of information and forces publishers to build their websites to Google’s desired spec.

This week, Brave also called into question the benefits of AMP from a user experience perspective, going so far as to say that “AMP is bad for performance and usability”, an accusation that appears to have caused particular irritation at Google.

“AMP is an open source framework that was collaboratively developed with publishers, tech companies, and Google as a way to help web content load faster– at the time it was created, it took 19 seconds on average to load a mobile webpage on a 3G connection,” the Google spokesperson told us.

“Today, AMP continues to be a helpful way for websites and publishers – especially those without large development teams – to easily create great web experiences.”

The debate over AMP is unlikely to be settled any time soon, however, with a second-generation system now in the works, informally known as AMP 2.0.

In the opinion of Brave, this new system has the potential to be “even worse”, allowing “more of the web to be served from Google’s servers, and in ways that give users less control over how they interact with that content”.

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