DuckDuckGo, the privacy-minded search company, says it will block trackers from Microsoft in its desktop web browser, following revelations in May that specific scripts from Bing and LinkedIn were getting a pass.
In a blog post, DuckDuckGo founder Gabriel Weinberg says that he's heard users' concerns since security researcher Zach Edwards' thread that “we didn't meet their expectations around one of our browser's web tracking protections.” Weinberg says that, over the next week, the company's browser will add Microsoft to the list of third-party tracking scripts blocked by its mobile and desktop browsers and extensions for other browsers.
“Previously, we were limited in how we could apply for our 3rd-Party Tracker Loading Protection on Microsoft tracking scripts due to a policy requirement related to our use of Bing as a source for our private search results,” Weinberg writes. “We're glad this is no longer the case. We have not had, and do not have, any similar limitation with any other company.”
There are a lot of pervasive, identifying things that load up on most modern web pages. At issue in DuckDuckGo's apps was its default blocking of scripts from companies like Facebook and Google loading on third-party websites. DuckDuckGo, which uses Microsoft's Bing as one of its sources for search results, had to allow some of Microsoft's trackers to load “due to a policy requirement.” In a Reddit response at the time of the revelation, Weinberg noted that Microsoft's trackers were blocked in most ways, like utilizing third-party cookies for fingerprinting visitors.
There's more to the delicate dance between DuckDuckGo and Microsoft than just trackers. Microsoft also provides ads that appear in DuckDuckGo's search results. So that advertisers can see when someone clicks an ad on DuckDuckGo and lands on their site, the DuckDuckGo apps won't block requests from
bat.bing.com. Weinberg notes that you can avoid this by simply turning off ads in the DuckDuckGo search. The company is working on validating ads in ways that can be non-tracking, Weinberg writes, akin to similar efforts by Safari and Firefox.
Finally, DuckDuckGo aims to be more open about its tracking policy. The company committed its tracker blocklist to a public GitHub repository yesterday and published a comprehensive help doc on its tracking protections.
It can look like a lot of work with two scripts. Still, DuckDuckGo lives inside the tricky balance of trying to make its search product convenient and relevant while offering its users as much privacy as websites can before breaking. And the 15-year-old company from Paoli, Pennsylvania, can't just leave Bing behind entirely. In his May Reddit response, Weinberg noted that most of its traditional search results and images come from Bing. “Only two companies (Google and Microsoft) have a high-quality global web link index” due to the billion-dollar cost, Weinberg wrote. As a result, every company that wants to provide search to the world faces either a duopoly or a very long journey.
Microsoft, meanwhile, continues to expand its advertising markets, most recently to Netflix, and, potentially, into its operating system. Its advertising revenue was $3 billion on June 30, an increase of 15 per cent yearly but the lowest growth rate in more than a year.
Shanique Taylor is an expert writer with over 150 publications on several blogs and websites before she joined our team at DailyTechFeed. Shanique specializes in Lifestyle, Health, and News articles. Shanique Taylor is also a web expert and keeps us running.