DuckDuckGo Browser – But Not Search – Special-Cases Microsoft Trackers Due to Search Agreement

Lawrence Abrams, writing for Bleeping Computer:

However, while performing a security audit of the DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser, security researcher Zach Edwards discovered that while the browser blocks Google and Facebook trackers, it allowed Microsoft trackers to continue running.

Further tests showed that DuckDuckGo allowed trackers related to the and domains while blocking all other trackers.

In response to Edwards’ long thread on the subject, DuckDuckGo CEO and Founder Gabriel Weinberg confirmed that their browser intentionally allows Microsoft trackers third-party sites due to a search syndication agreement with Redmond.

This has led to quite the uproar on Hacker News, where Weinberg has been defending the company’s transparency surrounding the agreements with Microsoft.

Not a good look for a company that just launched a high-profile campaign, touting “the simple fact is tracking is tracking, no matter what you call it”.

To be clear, this is about DuckDuckGo’s web browser, not their search results. But still — it’s just so contrary to the core of DuckDuckGo’s brand. It’s not a good look for Microsoft either — Microsoft would be smart to alter their search syndication agreement with DuckDuckGo to allow them to treat Microsoft’s trackers just like anyone else’s in the DuckDuckGo browser.

(While I’m at it: I’ve tried DuckDuckGo’s beta browser for Mac, but I can’t abide it. They’re using WebKit and really have written their own browser application, but for reasons that escape me, they made it look like Chrome. E.g. tab close buttons are on the right, not left; and the app’s preferences aren’t in their own window, but instead open in a browser tab.)

Update: Weinberg has posted a detailed explanation on Reddit. Worth reading.

Thursday, 26 May 2022