DuckDuckGo caught giving Microsoft permission for trackers despite strong privacy reputation

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DuckDuckGo is known for its privacy-first commitment to users on iOS, Android, browsers, and soon with its own Mac app. Now, a report puts in check the company’s privacy focus due to a search agreement with Microsoft that let the Redmond company continue tracking users on the browser.

As reported by Bleeping Computer, security researcher Zach Edwards posted on Twitter that “while DuckDuckGo blocks Google and Facebook trackers, it allowed Microsoft trackers to continue running.” The company explains that “this issue is occurring on browsers and only pertains to non-DuckDuckGo websites.”

Tests showed that the browser allowed trackers related to Bing and LinkedIn domains while blocking all other trackers. Edwards’ thread got the attention of DuckDuckGO CEO Gabriel Weinberg, which said the browser intentionally allows Microsoft trackers third-party sites due to a search syndication agreement with Redmond.

When you load our search results, you are completely anonymous, including ads. For ads, we worked with Microsoft to make ad clicks protected. From our public ads page, ‘Microsoft Advertising does not associate your ad-click behavior with a user profile’. For non-search tracker blocking (eg in our browser), we block most third-party trackers. Unfortunately our Microsoft search syndication agreement prevent us from doing more to Microsoft-owned properties. However, we have been continually pushing and expect to be doing more soon.

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