DuckDuckGo has made a name for itself protecting users from being tracked and preserving their anonymity, which is why folks were understandably upset when they discovered that the browser maker had given the green light to being tracked by Microsoft. On Friday, the search engine remedied that.
As of today, DuckDuckGo chief executive Gabriel Weinberg said that it will expand the scripts that “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.”
DuckDuckGo tries to block tracking scripts from search engines and websites like Facebook, but also from more fundamental architects of scripts and tracking software. (Here are five reasons to use DuckDuckGo over Google’s search engine). This browser uses what it calls 3rd-Party Tracking Loading Protection to block these third-party scripts or cookies from being loaded in your browser. If they did, they would be able to track your movements around the web and construct a profile of who you are, your preferences, and more. While other browsers and browser plug-ins empower users to protect their privacy, this search engine has made privacy a fundamental element of its products.
Weinberg’s decision was motivated by a discovery by security researcher Zach Edwards, who reported via Twitter that the DuckDuckGo browser blocked Google and Facebook trackers, but permitted some Microsoft trackers via Linkedin and Bing. That discovery was subsequently noted by BleepingComputer.
Weinberg said that, previously, DuckDuckGo was limited in how it could apply its 3rd-Party Tracking Protection to Microsoft because Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, was configured as the browser’s search provider. The agreement was “due to a policy requirement related to our use of Bing as a source for our private search results,” Weinberg wrote. “We’re glad this is no longer the case. We have not had and do not have any similar limitation with any other company.”
DuckDuckGo still has an ad relationship with Microsoft, which it will maintain. “Viewing ads on DuckDuckGo is anonymous and Microsoft has committed to not profile our users on ad clicks,” Weinberg said. While Microsoft will still record your relationship, it will not associate it with an accounting profile, he said.
If you’re still confused about what DuckDuckGo permits and what it doesn’t, the company said that it has a new help page that details the web tracking protections the company provides.