In May 2022, a security researcher discovered that DuckDuckGo, a company that offers a privacy-oriented search engine, anti-tracking browser and browser extensions, failed to block some Microsoft trackers. The founder and CEO of the internet privacy company explained that this is due to a syndicated search content contract with Microsoft, and the company has taken several measures to address these privacy concerns. Here's what you need to know about the current status of Microsoft tracking scripts in this search engine and browser.
Privacy Remains a Top Priority for DuckDuckGo
DuckDuckGo was founded in 2007 as a privacy-conscious alternative to Google search. Fifteen years later, the company is still dedicated to promoting privacy. Microsoft tracking scripts were never embedded in the search engine, browser or extensions, which block Microsoft third-party cookies. The recent controversy stems from the fact that this service does display Ads by Microsoft.
A Twitter post by security researcher Zach Edwards on May 23, 2022, regarding trackers on LinkedIn and Bing domains affiliated with Microsoft led the company to clarify their stance on tracking. As of August 2022, scripts from 21 Microsoft-affiliated URLs have been added to its Third-Party Tracker Loading Protection Feature, including the trackers on "bing.com" and "linkedin.com" that were identified by Edwards.
When users of the privacy browser or search engine click on ads, the service allows tracking scripts from "bat.bing.com" to execute on the advertiser's site, enabling advertisers to track the performance of search engine ad campaigns. The company has stated that it will block further calls to load trackers on advertiser sites.
The Service Blocks a Wide Range of Trackers
Business users seeking to migrate to Microsoft Office 365 can benefit from limiting tracking. A secure end-to-end onboarding solution from Cloudficient automates labor-intensive processes for initiatives that are more secure and transparent. It is worth noting that DuckDuckGo currently blocks the most common web trackers from Google, Facebook and Twitter.
Microsoft has been an exception to the rule because this company relies on contextual advertisements related to search queries or the contents of pages loaded in its browser. Most Microsoft third-party trackers are blocked, and the service has expanded the list of blocked URLs affiliated with Microsoft.
In addition to promoting privacy, blocking trackers improves browser performance. The DuckDuckGo informational website "Spread Privacy" reports that tracker blocking technology results in 66% fewer files loading and 34% less data transferred, which increases sample page load speeds by 46%.
The Service Has a Limited Allowance of Trackers for Ads
Even though DuckDuckGo now blocks scripts from more URLs associated with Microsoft, the company's advertising agreement with Microsoft Ads means that tracking scripts from "bat.bing.com" still execute on advertiser sites. The service has stated that it will block further tracking attempts originating from these URLs.
Gabriel Weinberg, the founder and CEO, has pointed out that Microsoft scripts have never been embedded in the company's browser applications or search engine. These scripts are also not used to send information to DuckDuckGo. The company's browser, browser extensions and search engine can still be more private than competing browsers and search engines.
The ongoing development of private ad conversion implementations suggests that these allowances will continue to evolve in the future. Even Google is changing the way it tracks users online. The search giant is experimenting with Topics that could eliminate third-party cookies by assigning ad categories and FLEDGE for on-device browser auctions that serve relevant ads from visited sites.
The Service Has a Tracker Loading Protection Feature
According to a blog post published by Weinberg in August 2022, the privacy company has announced that it is blocking third-party Microsoft tracking scripts through the Third-Party Tracker Loading Protection Feature. Another significant change is related to policy requirements that pertain to the company's use of Microsoft's search engine, Bing, as a source for private search results.
Weinberg claims that the addition of more Microsoft-related URLs to Third-Party Tracker Loading Protection and other changes enable the service to do "much more to block trackers than most other browsers." Users who want to evade tracking should still consider using the company's services, which block more trackers than many other search engines and browsers.
In addition to this service, users can choose from browser extensions such as Privacy Badger, Disconnect or Ghostery. The Electronic Frontier Foundation launched Privacy Badger in 2014 to enable users of the Chrome, Edge, Firefox, or Opera browsers to easily block tracking scripts.
DuckDuckGo May Eventually Block Even More Trackers
DuckDuckGo provides a privacy-oriented search engine and browser for mobile devices. Users who want to reduce the amount of tracking that takes place online can try these solutions but should be aware that clicking on ads enables tracking scripts.
In the future, the privacy company has stated that it hopes to replace Microsoft trackers on ads with private ad conversion implementations. Mozilla Firefox is developing Interoperable Private Attribution and Safari is working on Private Click Measurement. These methods may eventually enable these services to eliminate ad trackers.
Using DuckDuckGo is an effective way to cut down on the number of trackers that follow users across the web. Cloudficient maintains the highest standards for protecting personal information when helping customers migrate to Microsoft 365. Our next-generation migration technology for large enterprises is scalable, fast and seamless.
With unmatched next generation migration technology, Cloudficient is revolutionizing the way businesses retire legacy systems and transform their organization into the cloud. Our business constantly remains focused on client needs and creating product offerings that match them. We provide affordable services that are scalable, fast and seamless.
If you would like to learn more about how to bring Cloudficiency to your migration project, visit our website, or contact us.