In turmoil, DuckDuckGo now blocks Microsoft trackers

DuckDuckGo found itself in trouble this spring, when blame emerged against it. The search engine has been accused of failing to block certain Microsoft tracking tools. Today, DuckDuckGo announces that it is blocking contentious trackers.

This is the epilogue of a controversy that emerged this spring, and which had damaged the brand image of DuckDuckGo. The search engine, which has forged a certain reputation for respecting the confidentiality and privacy of Internet users, had been accused of being too conciliatory with the tracking tools used by Microsoft.

The issue had been raised in May 2022 by IT security expert Zach Edwards, who had shared a thread on Twitter to expose the problem. This finding had caused a lot of dissatisfaction, given DuckDuckGo’s positioning on online tracking issues. There was a strong dissonance between speech and action. ” You will see that DuckDuckGo does NOT stop data feeds to LinkedIn from Microsoft or their Bing advertising domains “, he wrote then, detailing his findings.

DuckDuckGo is a competing search engine of Google, which focuses its discourse on the protection of privacy. He is also a web browser editor now. // Source: Numerama

The specialist’s findings had found an echo in the English-speaking press and elsewhere. ” DuckDuckGo browser allows Microsoft trackers due to research agreement “, had titled Bleeping Computer. For its part, 9to5Mac observed that “ despite strong privacy reputation, DuckDuckGo gives Microsoft permission to use trackers “. ” DuckDuckGo is facing an uproar over its tracing deal with Microsoft “wrote The Next Web.

DuckDuckGo launched its own privacy-focused web browser in December 2021, hoping to come challenge Google Chrome on its turf. And it was in this software that the crux of the problem lay, not in the search engine as such. The fact remains that this case, even if it did not concern the main product of DuckDuckGo, cast a shadow over the entire company.

At the time, the founder of DuckDuckGo, Gabriel Weinberg, took the stage to explain the scope and implications of a contract with Microsoft, on Twitter, but also on platforms such as Reddit – this is evidenced by this long response published under one of the press articles mentioned above. He said that overall, Microsoft’s tracking tools were still neutralized, including third-party cookies and “fingerprinting”. That it wasn’t open bar either, in a way.

But two months later, change of tone.

DuckDuckGo now neutralizes Microsoft

In a blog post published on August 5 on the official website, Gabriel Weinberg admits that the previous situation was not adequate. ” We failed to meet their expectations for one of our browser’s website tracking protections “, he admits. It resulted ” a policy requirement related to our use of Bing as a source for our search results “.

DuckDuckGo didn’t have the freedom to apply its third-party tracker loading protection tools to Microsoft’s tracking scripts. This requirement is no longer, assures Gabriel Weinberg, adding for all intents and purposes that there is no other similar limitation with another company. Implicitly, there can no longer be another identical controversy that could break out soon.

We failed to meet public expectations for one of our browser’s site-tracking protections »

Gabriel Weinberg

DuckDuckGo’s new regime means Microsoft’s tools will be added to the list of third-party tracking scripts that are blocked from loading on pages. It starts with mobile apps (iOS and Android), as well as browser extensions (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge and Opera). Beta applications will follow in September.

Other arrangements have been announced.

On ad tracking, Gabriel Weinberg explains that ads can be completely disabled in DuckDuckGo search. The company is developing a solution similar to what Firefox and Safari already do to make the ads untrackable. Once in place, this system could be a point of balance between respect for the private life of Internet users and economy of the sites.

As for transparency and communication towards the public, DuckDuckGo also intends to progress. The company shared its tracker block list on GitHub and updated its help pages to educate people about its ways to limit and block online tracking. A few other search engine tools have also been upgraded for clarity.

For further

A Donald in shape to embody the success of DuckDuckGo // Source: Disney

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