After a disclosure in May that DuckDuckGo’s (DDG) privacy-focused web browser allows Microsoft to follow scripts on third-party websites, the business now says it will begin blocking those too.
DuckDuckGo’s browser kept third-party tracker loading protection by default that already secured scripts embedded on websites from Facebook, Google, and others. Still, until currently, Microsoft’s writings from the Bing and LinkedIn domains had a pass.
A security researcher anointed Zach Edwards pointed out the exclusion he uncovered while auditing the browser’s privacy claims and stated it is especially curious. Microsoft is the companion that ads in DDG’s search engine while promising not to employ that data to construct a monitored profile of users to target ads, instead relying on context to determine which ones it should show.
DuckDuckGo CEO Gabe Weinberg stated that the explanation for it was a search syndication contract with Microsoft and that additional updates on third-party tracker deterrence were coming. However, a backlash followed, with some seizing on DuckDuckGo’s assertions that “tracking is tracking,” a phrase the company utilized against Google’s cookie-replacing “privacy sandbox” ad technology.
Now Weinberg documents in a blog post, “I’ve heard from several users and understand that we didn’t fulfill their expectations almost one of our browser’s web tracking protections.” As a result, DuckDuckGo is vowing to be more translucent about what trackers its browser and extensions are protecting users from, creating its tracker blocklists available and delivering users more details on how its tracking protections with a unique help page.
The firm’s VP of communications, Kamyl Bazbaz, said most Microsoft scripts were already being intercepted by the browser’s other protections, asserting, “we ran a test to see how much more blocking is happening as a consequence of this new update and based on the top 1,000 websites, we discovered the increase was only 0.25%.”
One thing it won’t intercept by default after the changes roll out this week is scripts for bat.bing.com that load instantly after a user clicks on one of DDG’s search ads, which it states are used on advertisers’ sites to gauge ad effectiveness. But the blog post says DuckDuckGo’s third-party tracker loading security will block Microsoft’s scripts “in all other contexts.” Users can avoid this by disabling ads in the DuckDuckGo search settings. DuckDuckGo says that, like some other companies, it’s operating on non-profiling tech to replace the scripts, but that isn’t ready to go yet.
DuckDuckGo’s criticism focuses on Google’s advertising profiles and all the data they manage to scoop up from its various products, and justifiably so — glancing at Google parent company Alphabet’s $257 billion revenue haul in 2021, most of it arrived from advertising.
But there’s also more than enough reason to keep an eye on Microsoft’s advertising efforts. Beyond its deal to back Netflix’s ad-supported streaming service, it also makes billions of dollars from internet advertising. And it has built a cross-platform capable ad-tech giant of its own that can reach over 1 billion people. So if DuckDuckGo promises its users more overall protection than other browsers, it will have to keep proving it, and additional transparency can only help.
DuckDuckGo is a search engine that emphasizes defending searchers’ privacy and sidestepping the filter bubble of personalized search outcomes. DuckDuckGo does not display search results from content farms. Instead, it uses various APIs of other websites to deliver quick products to queries, and for standard links, it uses the assistance of its partners and its crawler. Because of its namelessness, it is impossible to know how many people use DuckDuckGo.
The company was established in Paoli, Pennsylvania, in Greater Philadelphia and had 149 employees as of October 2021. The company name references the children’s game duck, duck, and goose.
DuckDuckGo was founded by Gabriel Weinberg and pitched on February 29, 2008, in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Weinberg is an entrepreneur who launched Names Database, a now-defunct social network. Initially self-funded by Weinberg until October 2011, it was “backed by Union Square Ventures and a handful of angel investors.” Union Square partner Brad Burnham expressed, “We funded in DuckDuckGo because we evolved convinced that it was not only feasible to change the basis of competition in search, it was time to do it.” In addition, Linux Mint, Trisquel, and the Midori web browser reversed to use DuckDuckGo as their default search engine. DuckDuckGo gains revenue via advertisements and affiliate programs. The search engine is documented in Perl and operates on nginx, FreeBSD, and Linux.
DuckDuckGo is created primarily upon searching APIs from various vendors. Because of this, TechCrunch illustrated the service as a “hybrid” search engine. Weinberg described the beginnings of the name regarding the children’s game duck, duck, and goose. DuckDuckGo was featured on TechCrunch’s Elevator Pitch Friday in 2008 and was a finalist in the 2008 BOSS Mashable Challenge.
In 2010, DuckDuckGo began using privacy to differentiate itself from its competitors. In July 2010, Weinberg started a DuckDuckGo community website (duck.co) to let the public report problems, concern means of spreading the use of the search engine, request features, and discuss open sourcing the code. In addition, the company registered the domain name ddg.gg on February 22, 2011, and acquired duck.com in December 2018, which are used as shortened URL aliases that redirect to duckduckgo.com.