The web is a dangerous place - whether it is hackers trying to take over your computer or Big Tech companies trying to track your every move, you've got to be cautious. There appear to be very few good actors on the internet today, but one of them is DuckDuckGo, the privacy-focused search engine that looks to make your online experience safer. The company announced this week that they would be extending their tracking script blocker to include those from certain Microsoft properties.
DuckDuckGo and privacy
DuckDuckGo is a company known for its privacy-focused business practices. The company's search engine, which is a private competitor to services like Google Search and Bing and direct competitor to Brave Search, does not track users. The company's browser, available for most platforms including desktop and mobile, allows users to browse the web in a more private and safe environment. The browser blocks the tracking code inserted by developers and tech platforms in order to learn more about the browsing habits of those users.
One set of trackers that have not been blocked, however, has come from Microsoft. The company has tracking software implemented by several of its brands, including Bing and Linkedin, but DuckDuckGo has left those in fact. This week, they announced that the previous policy was no more and those trackers were being added to the block list.
DuckDuckGo and Microsoft
So, why has DuckDuckGo left the Microsoft trackers in place for so long? Because of a licensing deal with Microsoft that gave them access to the Bing search results for private search. CEO Gabriel Weinberg explained saying,
We were limited in how we could apply our 3rd-Party Tracker Loading Protection on Microsoft tracking scripts due to a policy requirement related to our use of Bing as a source for our private search results. We're glad this is no longer the case. We have not had, and do not have, any similar limitation with any other company.
So, with the end of the private search partnership comes the end of Microsoft tracking technology in the browser. This has been seen as a big win for consumers, and brings the policy inline with other companies. The 3rd-Party Tracker Loading Protection system already blocks competitors, such as Google and Facebook, and will not include Microsoft.
But, DuckDuckGo isn't done with Microsoft entirely. The company still uses Microsoft advertising technology, but has a special agreement with the company. A blog post explains,
When you click on a Microsoft-provided ad that appears on DuckDuckGo, Microsoft Advertising does not associate your ad-click behavior with a user profile. It also does not store or share that information other than for accounting purposes.
It is important to note that some advertisers do use other Microsoft tech in order to know when an ad is clocked, but the browser still prevents that creation of a user profile based on these clicks. It is a solid middle ground between complete user privacy and being able to offer a free service to the internet. You can learn more about the protections that DuckDuckGo offers to users on its new tracking protection page.