DuckDuckGo Browser Allows Microsoft to Track Users Thanks to Confidential Agreement

DuckDuckGo again seems to be in hot water with its users, this time over a clear and intentional violation of privacy. The blowback has been swift with many in the privacy community condemning DuckDuckGo’s apparent hypocrisy by claiming to be private while exposing its users to Microsoft trackers.

This specific issue has to do with DuckDuckGo’s “privacy” browser that it offers for Android and iOS (not the search engine).

A security researcher named Zach Edwards recently published his findings that show how DuckDuckGo’s browser is intentionally allowing trackers for Microsoft domains.

You can capture data within the DuckDuckGo so-called private browser on a website like Facebook’s https://t.co/u8W44qvsqF and you’ll see that DDG does NOT stop data flows to Microsoft’s Linkedin domains or their Bing advertising domains.

iOS + Android proof:
👀🫥😮‍💨🤡⛈️⚖️💸💸💸 pic.twitter.com/u3Q30KIs7e

— ℨ𝔞𝔠𝔥 𝔈𝔡𝔴𝔞𝔯𝔡𝔰 (@thezedwards) May 23, 2022

We have previously discussed DuckDuckGo at length in our guide on private search engines. In that guide, I noted how DuckDuckGo partners with Bing to deliver search results and advertising revenue. It seems this basic model/partnership is bleeding over into the realm of browsers where trackers can be used for targeted advertisements.

You can see the full thread from Zach Edwards explaining the situation in more detail here.

DuckDuckGo’s Gabriel Weinberg responds

In response to Edwards’ thread, DuckDuckGo’s CEO Gabriel Weinberg explained the policy. He clarified on Twitter how this was intentional and due to a “search syndication agreement” with Microsoft. Weinberg also claimed to be “working tirelessly” to

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