The DuckDuckGo browser allows Microsoft trackers on third-party sites as part of a content syndication agreement.
As you know, DuckDuckGo positions itself as a search engine with the main focus on privacy. In particular, it does not allow tracking search queries and instead of profiling users to select relevant ads for them, it uses contextual advertising from partners, including Microsoft.
Although DuckDuckGo does not link any personal identifiers to users’ search queries, Microsoft ads can track IP addresses and other information when users click on an advertising link. However, this is done only “for statistics”, and the collected data is not linked to any advertising user profiles.
DuckDuckGo also offers a browser for iOS and Android devices, equipped with a range of security features, including blocking third-party cookies and trackers.
However, while conducting a DuckDuckGo browser security audit, researcher Zach Edwards found that, although trackers from Google and Facebook are indeed blocked, trackers from Microsoft are quietly working. As further research has shown, DuckDuckGo allows domain-related trackers bing.com and linkedin.com .
In response to Edwards’ appeal, DuckDuckGo founder and CEO Gabriel Weinberg confirmed that the browser does allow Microsoft trackers on third-party sites as part of the content syndication agreement concluded with the company. However, according to him, the agreement concerns only the browser, but not the search engine.
Although DuckDuckGo has never hidden its partnership with Microsoft in the field of marketing, it is unclear why users were not informed about the allowed trackers until they were discovered by a security researcher.
After publishing an article about Edwardas’ discovery on BleepingComputer, DuckDuckGo representatives announced their intention to remove this restriction from the agreement and make the descriptions in the app store more transparent and understandable.