In May 2022 — a dark DuckDuckGo secret came to light— security researcher Zach Edwards pointed out that Microsoft domains and scripts were excluded from DuckDuckGo tracking protection.
The company has finally come up with a fix. Through their website, DuckDuckGo confirms that next month they will begin to block Microsoft trackers.
In its official blog post, DuckDuckGo assures that the demands of Microsoft are no longer required. According to DuckDuckGo’s CEO Gabriel Weinberg, “I’ve heard from a number of users and understand that we didn’t meet their expectations around one of our browser’s web tracking protections. So today, we are announcing more privacy and transparency around DuckDuckGo’s web tracking protections.” He said, “Over the next week, we will expand the third-party tracking scripts we block from loading on websites to include scripts from Microsoft in our browsing apps (iOS and Android) and our browser extensions (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge and Opera), with beta apps to follow in the coming month. This expands our 3rd-Party Tracker Loading Protection, which blocks identified tracking scripts from Facebook, Google, and other companies from loading on third-party websites, to now include third-party Microsoft tracking scripts.”
The main premise of DuckDuckGo is that it allows you to browse the internet safely. To do so, the browser blocks the trackers that you can find on each of the websites, including those of their own or third parties. However, Microsoft’s trackers were not being blocked due to some kind of agreement between the two companies.
However, there is still one exception — if an ad is clicked on in the DuckDuckGo search engine, bat.bing.com will load the appropriate scripts to measure conversations — i.e. whether clicks on ads have actually led to product purchases. These scripts are still not blocked by DuckDuckGo’s software in the context of the DuckDuckGo website but are blocked in other contexts.
Nevertheless, viewing ads on Duckduckgo is anonymous. Microsoft has undertaken not to create profiles of Duckduckgo users by clicking on ads, emphasizes Weinberg. He said, “To eventually replace the reliance on bat.bing.com for evaluating ad effectiveness, we’ve started working on an architecture for private ad conversions that can be externally validated as non-profiling.”
In order to be able to check which tracking scripts are blocked and which are not, DuckDuckGo has now also made the block lists publicly available on GitHub.