DuckDuckGo-ing back on its word.
UPDATE: A DuckDuckGo representative informed us “We are doing a lot to block [Microsoft] tracking, including blocking third party cookies. It is not true to say we’re not blocking anything from [Microsoft] at all. Only one part of multiple privacy protections we offer is impacted by the agreement.” They likewise worried that the handle Microsoft “has no bearing on our search results.”
The representative states too that “Folks who use the DuckDuckGo browser on mobile or Mac OS (in beta) are still getting significantly more privacy protection by default with DuckDuckGo than they would using Safari, Firefox, Chrome and other browsers” which DuckDuckGo has “never promised 100% protection because it’s not possible for a number of reasons.”
DuckDuckGo’s web browser for iOS, Android, and macOS supposedly permits Microsoft trackers to run in spite of declaring that it “automatically blocks hidden third-party trackers” for its users.
This exception to DuckDuckGo’s tracker defenses was exposed by security scientist Zach Edwards on May 23, BleepingComputer reports(Opens in a brand-new window). Edwards tweeted proof of DuckDuckGo’s web browser enabling trackers utilized by LinkedIn and Bing to pack on the site for Work environment:
DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg said(Opens in a new window) on May 23 that “our Microsoft search syndication agreement prevents us from doing more to Microsoft-owned properties” which his business has “been continually pushing and expect to be doing more soon.”
However it’s still uncertain how precisely DuckDuckGo deals with Microsoft’s trackers. Weinberg states:
Weinberg provided extra information in a post(Opens in a brand-new window) on the Hacker News online forum:
“This is just about non-DuckDuckGo and non-Microsoft sites in our browsers, where our search syndication agreement currently prevents us from stopping Microsoft-owned scripts from loading, though we can still apply our browser’s protections post-load (like 3rd party cookie blocking and others mentioned above, and do). We’ve also been tirelessly working behind the scenes to change this limited restriction. I also understand this is confusing because it is a search syndication contract that is preventing us from doing a non-search thing. That’s because our product is a bundle of multiple privacy protections, and this is a distribution requirement imposed on us as part of the search syndication agreement. Our syndication agreement also has broad confidentially provisions and the requirement documents themselves are explicitly marked confidential.”
DuckDuckGo has actually likewise upgraded the description of its web browser in the App Shop(Opens in a brand-new window) to check out: “Note About our Tracker Blocking: While we block all cross-site (3rd party) cookies on other sites you visit, we cannot block all hidden tracking scripts on non-DuckDuckGo sites for a variety of reasons including: new scripts pop up all the time making them difficult to find, blocking some scripts creates breakage making parts or all of the page unusable, some we are prevented from blocking due to contractual restrictions with Microsoft.”
We have actually connected to DuckDuckGo for additional information about what sort of trackers it’s enabling past the Tracker Obstructing function and will upgrade this post when the business reacts.
In the meantime, this back-and-forth makes it clear that preserving even a form of personal privacy is hard, even when utilizing tools developed particularly for that function.