• Tue. Jun 14th, 2022

Privacy search engine DuckDuckGo had a secret tracking agreement with Microsoft

ByVirginia D. Bannon

May 30, 2022

Founded on a commitment to privacy, DuckDuckGo – the sixth-largest search engine in the United States by market share – is facing backlash for allowing Microsoft to track certain data about third-party websites and show ads next to search results.

The DuckDuckGo Browser is supposed to block advertisers’ trackers who sell and trade user data. However, security researcher Zack Edwards discovered that while DuckDuckGo blocks trackers from Google and Facebook, it allows Microsoft to track data through the LinkedIn and Bing advertising domains, according to news and analysis publication TechSpot.

With 0.68% of the search engine market shareDuckDuckGo is David against Goliath Google, which has 92.01% of the market.

DuckDuckGo admits that it has an agreement allowing Microsoft to provide advertisements alongside search results. It says Microsoft does not store click-through behavior data or use it to profile users, but it does not mention trackers that send data through LinkedIn and Bing.

A Pennsylvania-based company, DuckDuckGo is defending its relationship with Microsoft and says it is trying to change its deal in their syndicated search content contract.

Although DuckDuckGo does not store any personal identifiers with your search queries, Microsoft advertising can track your IP address and other information when you click on an advertising link for “accounting purposes” but it is not associated with a user’s advertising profile, according to BeepComputer.

DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg tweeted on Saturday, describing a news headline on the Microsoft tracking controversy as “misleadingbecause “it’s not our search engine and we actually restrict Microsoft scripting in our browsers, including blocking their third-party cookies.”

Weinberg invited readers to see his full background in a detailed explanation on Reddit. He wrote there under the user name yegg: “To be clear… when you load our search results, you are anonymous, including the advertisements. Additionally, on third-party websites, we block third-party Microsoft cookies in our browsers, along with other safeguards, including fingerprint protection.

Weinberg added, “When most other browsers on the market talk about tracking protection, they’re usually referring to third-party cookie protection and fingerprint protection, and our browsers put those same restrictions on all scripts. third-party tracking software, including those from Microsoft.

The responses sounded nice on Redditt. “You are a CEO standing up to come on reddit and defend your business,” Nodebunny wrote.

“I have to respect transparency,” benadrylpill wrote.

However, there was less sympathy for DuckDuckGo on the Y-Combinator Hacker News forum.

“Your position is problematic. It’s a problem, and it’s serious. It undermines trust in a product that claims to be the bastion of privacy,” Zenexer wrote. “To me, that sounds like marketing gibberish. Ultimately, if a privacy-centric browser is contractually obligated to load tracking scripts and must avoid disclosing that fact, I absolutely want nothing to do with it. one or other of the parties.

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“The security engineer thread shows that the scripts are communicating with the servers. This means your multi-pronged protection has failed,” tedivm wrote.

DuckDuckGo CEO Weinberg defended DuckDuckGo.

“I know our product is not perfect and never will be,” he wrote. “We face many constraints: platform constraints, contractual constraints (as in this case), breakage constraints, and the evolution of the follow-up arms race. Overall, I think it’s the best thing for mainstream users who want simple privacy protection without breaking things, and that’s our take on the product.

Image: DuckDuckGo