DuckDuckGo arrested for licensing Microsoft trackers despite strong privacy reputation

DuckDuckGo is known for its first privacy commitment to users on iOS, Android, browsers and soon with its own Mac app. Now a report puts the company ‘s focus on privacy under a search deal with Microsoft that allowed Redmond to continue tracking users in the browser.

As reported by Bleeping Computersecurity researcher Zach Edwards posted on Twitter that “while DuckDuckGo blocks Google and Facebook crawlers, it has allowed Microsoft crawlers to continue running.” The company explains that “this issue occurs in browsers and only concerns non-DuckDuckGo sites”.

Tests have shown that the browser allows crawlers related to Bing and LinkedIn domains while blocking all other crawlers. Edwards’s thread caught the eye DuckDuckGO CEO Gabriel Weinbergwhich stated that the browser intentionally allows Microsoft to track third party websites due to a search sharing agreement with Redmond.

When you upload our search results, you are completely anonymous, including ads. For ads, we partnered with Microsoft to protect ad clicks. From our Ads page, “Microsoft Ad does not associate your ad click behavior with a user profile.” To exclude non-search trackers (eg in our browser), we exclude most third-party trackers. Unfortunately, the Microsoft Search Partnership Agreement prevents us from doing more on Microsoft-owned properties. However, we are constantly pushing and expecting to do more soon.

While not a groundbreaking contribution to the genre, DuckDuckGo’s focus on privacy has brought the company’s vision under control. In the same way, Apple promises privacy first in its ecosystem and is highly controversial when you hear reports from third-party companies listening to HomePod requests. Either the company is all-in for privacy or it is not.

Following the story of Bleeping Computer, DuckDuckGo sent a statement to the post and 9 to 5 Mac saying that it will be clearer with Microsoft cooperation and will continue to improve users’ right to privacy:

“We have always been extremely careful never to promise anonymity while browsing, because this is honestly not possible given how quickly trackers change their mode of operation to avoid the protections and tools we currently offer. While most browsers on the market talk about tracking protection, they usually refer to third-party cookie protection and fingerprint protection, and our browsers for iOS, Android, and the new Mac beta impose these restrictions on third-party tracking scenarios, such as those of Microsoft.

What we are talking about here is an overprotection that most browsers do not even attempt to do – that is, block third-party tracking scripts before being uploaded to third-party sites. Because we do this where we can, users still get far more privacy protection with DuckDuckGo than they would with Safari, Firefox, and other browsers. This blog post we published includes the real benefits that users enjoy from this approach, such as faster load times (average reduction 46%) and less data being transferred (average reduction 34%). “Our goal has always been to provide the greatest privacy we can in a single download, by default without complicated settings.”

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