DuckDuckGo browser will block Microsoft trackers following backlash – Review Geek
After months of backlash, DuckDuckGo’s browser will finally block Microsoft trackers. The company will also provide more transparency to its users by publishing a comprehensive list of blocked domains, updating its privacy dashboard to show when scripts are blocked or loaded, and creating a custom ad conversion system for its engine. of research.
Wait, DuckDuckGo doesn’t block Microsoft trackers?
We learned on May 24, DuckDuckGo intentionally left a Microsoft-sized “privacy hole” in its browser. Here’s the gist; if you visit a site with built-in Microsoft trackers, the DuckDuckGo browser will not block those trackers. At least not for a few weeks.
After the issue was discovered by a security researcher @thezedwards, DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg explained that the company has a complicated deal with Microsoft. In exchange for Bing search results, DuckDuckGo uses privacy-protected Microsoft advertisements in its search engine (which the company has always made clear), and more importantly, it is not allowed to block certain third-party Microsoft trackers in his browser.
Everything will change this week
Clearly, DuckDuckGo and Microsoft have figured something out. In a new blog post, Gabriel Weinberg says that DuckDuckGo “will expand third-party tracking scripts that we prevent from loading on websites to include scripts from Microsoft.” This change will occur in DuckDuckGo navigation apps and browser extensions “over the next week”. (Beta versions of the DuckDuckGo software will receive the same treatment in September.)
For further clarification, I asked a DuckDuckGo spokesperson which Microsoft domains the browser would block. They explained that all known Microsoft trackers will be blocked, as long as they match DuckDuckGo’s criteria (some trackers are necessary for websites to work).
Additionally, DuckDuckGo gave me a full list of blocked Microsoft domains:
Keep in mind that for some of these domains, like Bing or Linkedin, the DuckDuckGo browser will only block a subset of tracking-related requests. (Although I’m sure some people would love to never visit Bing or Linkedin.)
There is only one notable exception here; when you click on an ad in DuckDuckGo’s search engine, it will not block the bat.bing.com domain. This enables ad conversion metrics, which let advertisers know if their ads are actually being clicked on.
The good news is that DuckDuckGo plans to develop a privacy-focused ad conversion architecture. Other companies, including Apple and Mozilla, are taking on the same challenge. (Don’t hold your breath. I imagine it will take a while.)
Improved transparency for DuckDuckGo users
The blocking of Microsoft trackers is obviously the strong point of this announcement. But because DuckDuckGo did such a big oopsie-poopsie, it changes the way it communicates with users.
First, DuckDuckGo now maintains a public list of all trackers it blocks. This is an incredibly valuable block of information – users can now compare DuckDuckGo’s blocklist against its competitors, or even track domains added or removed from this list.
DuckDuckGo is also updating its help page, which is more exciting than it looks. The help page will display all of DuckDuckGo’s privacy protections (by app) in one place. Most importantly, the help page will explain what privacy protections are possible on each platform and detail any new features being developed.
And finally, the DuckDuckGo privacy dashboard will now show all blocked or loaded third-party requests on a webpage. In some cases, it will also explain Why these requests were either blocked or allowed to flow freely.
Should you trust DuckDuckGo?
It’s nice to see DuckDuckGo tackling its issues head-on. Not only will the company block Microsoft trackers, but it will provide more transparency to its users. The comprehensive list of blocked domains is particularly useful – not only can users see which domains DuckDuckGo is blocking, but they can compare the browser’s block list to other tools, such as uBlock Origin.
But DuckDuckGo was caught in a big lie. Privacy-conscious people won’t forget this lie, and in fact, they might not trust DuckDuckGo’s new push for transparency.
Instead of sharing my thoughts on the situation, I will say this; you will never enjoy complete privacy or anonymity on the Internet. Even if a company has your best interests at heart, which it never does, it cannot offer complete protection against corporate greed, advertisers, hackers or governments.
You should continue to research, review and use privacy tools. They absolutely make a difference, even if they are not perfect. But don’t put all your trust in software.