DuckDuckGo CEO and founder Gabriel Weinberg announced today that the company’s apps and browser extensions will block Microsoft tracking scripts soon as well.
DuckDuckGo found itself at the center of a controversy in May when it was discovered that the company’s privacy-focused products were not blocking Microsoft trackers.
Brave browser founder Brendan Eich called out DuckDuckGo for whitelisting Microsoft from the built-in tracking blocker of DuckDuckGo’s privacy products.
Weinberg announced today that DuckDuckGo’s apps and extensions will block Microsoft scripts, just like the products are blocking Google, Facebook and other scripts that could be used for tracking purposes. The company’s products will block scripts from Microsoft from loading on websites via the 3rd-Party Tracker Loading Protection feature.
DuckDuckGo plans to roll out the improvement in the next week across company products. Beta versions of the apps will get the protection in the coming months, according to Weinberg.
DuckDuckGo has a partnership with Microsoft. Microsoft provides the company with access to data from its Bing search engine. Weinberg notes that the Microsoft tracking exemption in DuckDuckGo’s products was “due to a policy requirement”. He notes that this policy is no longer in effect and that this has paved the way for the extension of the tracker blocking in the company’s products.
DuckDuckGo did not embed Microsoft scripts on its website or in the company’s applications or extensions.
Microsoft is DuckDuckGo’s advertising partner as well. DuckDuckGo and Microsoft have an agreement that Microsoft won’t use interactions with ad-clicks to profile users. Data is also not stored or shared, “other than for accounting purposes” according to Weinberg.
DuckDuckGo’s applications won’t block certain Microsoft scripts from running on third-party sites that are used for conversion tracking. The script is loaded on the target site after interaction with an ad to track conversions. Weinberg reveals that DuckDuckGo users may disable ads in the DuckDuckGo search settings to prevent this from happening.
DuckDuckgo plans to create a better solution for conversion tracking that replaces the current method.
To improve transparency, DuckDuckGo made its tracker protection list publicly available. Additionally, its products are showing more information in the privacy dashboard in regards to third-party requests.
Interested users may check out a new support page that provides details on the company’s web tracking protections.
Weinberg does not provide specifics on how his company and Microsoft came to the new agreement and the removing of the user-unfriendly policy. Whether the controversy hurt DuckDuckgo’s growth or reputation remains to be seen. It is clear that some users were not too happy with the revelation. It is difficult to earn trust, but easy to game it.
Now You: do you use DuckDuckGo Search or the company’s other products?