After failing to block them in the past, DuckDuckGo announced today that they will now be blocking all third-party Microsoft tracking scripts in their privacy browser.
This change comes after the company received widespread criticism in May for failing to block certain third-party Microsoft trackers in the DuckDuckGo browser due to a syndicated search content agreement between the two companies.
This was in stark contrast to the DuckDuckGo browser’s previous description, which stated that it blocked hidden trackers found on websites.
“Tracker Radar automatically blocks hidden third-party trackers we find lurking on websites you visit in DuckDuckGo, preventing the companies behind those trackers from collecting and selling your data,” explains the Apple App Store page for the DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser.
The fact that some Microsoft trackers were allowed was discovered by security researcher Zach Edwards, who discovered that the DuckDuckGo browser blocked Google and Facebook trackers but allowed some Microsoft trackers on Linkedin and Bing domains.
I tested the DuckDuckGo so-called private browser for both iOS and Android, yet *neither version* blocked data transfers to Microsoft’s Linkedin + Bing ads while viewing Facebook’s workplace[.]com homepage.
Look at DDG bragging about stopping Facebook on Workplace, no MSFT..: pic.twitter.com/xfqhUOZMmf
— Zach Edwards (@thezedwards) May 23, 2022
Most of the time, all Microsoft trackers are blocked.
DuckDuckGo announced today that it would begin blocking all third-party Microsoft tracking scripts in its mobile DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser (iOS/Android) and DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials browser extensions this week (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, and Opera).
“I recently heard from a number of users and understand that we did not meet their expectations regarding one of our browser’s web tracking protections. So, today, we’re announcing increased privacy and transparency around DuckDuckGo’s web tracking protections “According to DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg’s announcement.
Microsoft trackers are being blocked via the 3rd-Party Tracker Loading Protection feature, with DuckDuckGo telling YT Trending that scripts from the following twenty-one URLs will be blocked:
adnxs.com adnxs-simple.com adsymptotic.com adv-cloudfilse.azureedge.net app-fnsp-matomo-analytics-prod.azurewebsites.net azure.com azure.net bing.com cdnnwlive.azureedge.net clarity.ms dynamics.com fp-cdn.azureedge.net licdn.com linkedin.com live-tfs-omnilytics.azurewebsites.net msecnd.net nlo-stl-web.azureedge.net nuance.com pestcontrol-uc1.azureedge.net sdtagging.azureedge.net serviceschipotlecom.trafficmanager.net
However, because DuckDuckGo relies on Microsoft Advertising for search engine ads, there will be some limited support for Microsoft trackers when using the privacy browser.
When a user clicks on an advertisement in a DuckDuckGo search, the DDG browser allows tracking scripts from bat.bing.com to run once on the advertiser’s site. This allowance enables advertisers to track the effectiveness of their advertising campaigns.
DuckDuckGo, on the other hand, will block any future requests to that site that attempt to load trackers from bat.bing.com.
This isn’t a perfect solution, but DuckDuckGo says they hope to replace bat.bing.com trackers in the future with private ad conversion implementations that Firefox and Safari are working on.
Microsoft is pleased with this solution because it allows DuckDuckGo to increase user privacy while still allowing Microsoft advertisers to track the performance of their ads.
“To accurately track conversions on our network, Microsoft has policies in place to ensure that we balance the needs of our publishers with the needs of our advertisers,” Microsoft told YT Trending
“We worked with DuckDuckGo to understand the implications of this policy, and we are pleased to have found a solution that addresses those concerns.”
Finally, Weinberg announced increased transparency about its web tracking protection features by launching a dedicated help page and sharing a list of blocked trackers on GitHub.