blek! World

duckduckgo ai chat thing

its kinda cool

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so, a few days ago i've noticed that duckduckgo has this weird new "ai chat" option:
screenshot of duckduckgo page with a red arrow pointing to the "Chat" button

it allows you to select two models: claude 1.2 and chatgpt 3.5. the last one is widely known, however you can find some info on claude here

as i've always wondered just how real their claims are that your identity is never attached to the models, i've decided to research into the API.

chat APIs

Disclaimer: The following section is of educational purposes only. Please do not scrape DuckDuckGo's APIs, as it would only hurt the company which honestly cares about your privacy.

obviously the first thing i wanted to do see if there is a public chat API. i wasn't suprised when i couldn't find info on any of the public duckduckgo APIs(probably because there isn't any), other than this stackoverflow answer

however i've investigated a bit and turns out that client API is not that complicated as i thought.

now, first of all you need yo obtain the API token via GET with a header x-vqd-accept: 1. the api token will be in the x-vqd-4 header. it seems a bit tricky to get the right token without it throwing a ERR_INVALID_VQD error later, so its best to copy the request as cURL from your browser.

it is quite weird actually that it seems to be accepting only genuine browser-generated headers. however they contain little to no identifying data.

after you got the api key, send a POST with a header x-vqd-4: the-vqd-header-from-previous-request.

the payload seems to be of this TS type and encoded via JSON:

type ChatPayload {
    messages: { content: string, role: 'user' }[],
    model: 'claude-instant-1.2' | 'gpt-3.5-turbo-0125'

then the API will return the response word-by-word in a good ol' streamed http response in chunks like this:

data: {"role":"assistant","message":".","created":1712840811713,"id":"compl_8pC9nVX8QJlN92jUtcJR8TgB","action":"success","model":"claude-instant-1.2"}

also the /duckchat/v1/chat request gives you the new VQD which you gotta use for the future requests.

i guess someone could fashion a cli program to read data from that API and print it out in the console.

upd a few days later: i did. heres the link

the verdict

i think its safe to say that no identity data is collected via the chat APIs, other than your IP address, which by itself is not usually enough to identify a user, especially if you're sitting on a public network.

also if someone from the team who made the API reads this, please tell me if i missed some points, and what the hell does VQD even mean.

Background credit to tenor