DuckDuckGo is known for its commitment to privacy first for users on iOS, Android, browsers, and soon its Mac app. Now, a report puts the focus of the company’s privacy focus on scrutiny due to a search agreement with Microsoft that allows the Redmond company to continue tracking users on the browser.
As I mentioned sleeping computerSecurity researcher Zack Edwards Posted on Twitter that “while DuckDuckGo blocks Google and Facebook trackers, it has allowed Microsoft trackers to continue working.” The company explains that “this issue occurs in browsers and only pertains to sites that are not affiliated with DuckDuckGo.”
Tests showed that the browser allowed trackers related to Bing and LinkedIn domains while blocking all other trackers. Edwards’ topic has received attention DuckDuckGO CEO Gabriel Weinbergwhich said the browser intentionally allows tracking of third-party sites from Microsoft due to a search-sharing agreement with Redmond.
When you upload our search results, you will be completely anonymous, including ads. For ads, we’ve worked with Microsoft to protect ad clicks. From our public advertising page, “Microsoft Advertising does not associate ad click behavior with a user profile.” For non-tracker search blocking (eg in our browser), we block most third-party trackers. Unfortunately, our Microsoft Search Sharing Agreement prevents us from doing more for Microsoft-owned properties. However, we are constantly pushing and expect to do more soon.
While it doesn’t seem like a big deal because, technically, users aren’t tracked, DuckDuckGo’s focus on privacy puts the company’s vision in check. In the same way, Apple promises privacy first on its ecosystem, and it’s very controversial once you hear reports about third-party companies listening to HomePod requests. Or is the company all-in to privacy or not.
Following the Bleeping Computer story, DuckDuckGo sent a statement to the post and 9to5Mac Saying it will be more visible with Microsoft’s partnership and will continue to improve users’ right to privacy:
“We’ve always been very careful to never promise to remain anonymous when browsing, because that’s frankly not possible given how quickly trackers are changing the way they work to evade the protections and tools we currently offer. When most other browsers in the market talk about tracking protection, they’re referring to Typically to third-party cookie and fingerprint protection, our browsers for iOS, Android, and our new Mac beta enforce these restrictions on third-party tracking scripts, including those from Microsoft.
What we’re talking about here is superior protection that most browsers don’t attempt to do – i.e. block third-party tracking scripts before they are uploaded to third-party websites. Because we do this where we can, users still get much more privacy protection with DuckDuckGo than using Safari, Firefox and other browsers. Our blog post gets the real benefits that users get from this approach, such as faster load times (average decrease of 46%) and less data transfer (average decrease of 34%). Our goal has always been to provide as much privacy as possible in a single download, by default without any complicated settings.”
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