DuckDuckGo Browser Found to Be Allowing Microsoft Trackers on Third-Party Sites Despite Privacy-First Claims


DuckDuckGo Browser, which is claimed to be a privacy-first offering, has been found to use partial processing in tracking protection and does not restrict Microsoft trackers from loading on third-party websites. The issue was spotted by a researcher in the DuckDuckGo browser available for both Android and iOS devices. However, the privacy loophole is allegedly not in place for the search engine DuckDuckGo, which rivals Google and Microsoft Bing by offering an entirely private option.

Researcher Zack Edwards subscriber His Twitter findings reveal that the DuckDuckGo mobile browser does not block Microsoft-owned scripts on non-Microsoft sites. The researcher explained the problem by visiting Workplace.com on Facebook on a browser. While I notified about blocking Google and Facebook trackers, the browser didn’t mention any details about blocking Microsoft trackers.

The researcher showed that both the Android and iOS versions of the DuckDuckGo browser do not restrict data transfer to Microsoft LinkedIn and Bing ads.

Interestingly, DuckDuckGo says in the app store listings that its mobile browser offers “smooth protection from third-party trackers while searching and browsing.” This, however, is apparently not the case.

DuckDuckGo Founder and CEO Gabe Weinberg replied To Edwards’ Twitter thread to acknowledge that the browser allows Microsoft trackers to load on third-party websites. He said it was caused by a “search sharing agreement” between Microsoft and DuckDuckGo that prevents the latter from restricting Microsoft scripts to non-Microsoft sites.

However, the executive added that the company has been “constantly pushing and expects to be able to do more very soon” on the matter.

Giving more clarity about the issue that has led to strong criticism among DuckDuckGo users and privacy advocates, Weinberg said on Reddit that the company is working with Microsoft to reduce or remove the limitation.

“I understand that this is somewhat confusing because it is a search sharing contract that prevents us from doing something non-search related. This is because our product is a bundle of various privacy protections, and this is a distribution requirement imposed on us as part of a search sharing agreement that helps us use some Bing results specifically to provide you with better private search results in general.”

Primarily, the main concern about Microsoft not being restricted from uploading its own trackers to third-party websites is due to DuckDuckGo’s claims to be a privacy-focused browser. Weinberg said the company has been working on updates to its App Store descriptions to make things clear to users.

It is important to note that although DuckDuckGo browser allows Microsoft tracking on third-party websites, Weinberg claimed that this is not the case with his search engine.

“To be clear, when you load our search results, you are completely anonymous, including ads. We also block third-party cookies in our browsers, including those on Microsoft-owned properties,” he said on Twitter.

However, it should be noted here that because DuckDuckGo uses the Microsoft Advertising platform on its search engine, Microsoft can access users’ IP address and user agent string by simply clicking on any ads available in search results. It is defined in the search engine’s privacy policy.

Weinberg acknowledged this limitation and noted that there are several limitations that limit DuckDuckGo from offering complete protection to users.

But nevertheless, the way in which the browser did not provide any clarity to users until privacy concerns were highlighted by a researcher questioning the fairness of DuckDuckGo to its users. Microsoft also – as one might expect – has kept its silence on the matter.




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