DuckDuckGo CEO and Founder Gabriel Weinberg today announced that the company’s apps and browser extensions will also soon block Microsoft tracking scripts.
DuckDuckGo found itself at the center of controversy in May when it was discovered that the company’s privacy-focused products failed to block Microsoft trackers.
Brave browser founder Brendan Eich has called out DuckDuckGo for whitelisting Microsoft’s built-in tracking blocker of DuckDuckGo’s privacy products.
Weinberg announced today that DuckDuckGo apps and extensions will block Microsoft scripts, just as the products block Google, Facebook, and other scripts that could be used for tracking purposes. The company’s products will prevent Microsoft’s scripts from loading on websites through the Load Protection feature of third-party trackers.
DuckDuckGo plans to roll out the improvement next week to all of the company’s products. Beta versions of the apps will get the protection in the coming months, according to Weinberg.
DuckDuckGo has a partnership with Microsoft. Microsoft provides the company with access to data from its Bing search engine. Weinberg notes that Microsoft’s tracking exemption in DuckDuckGo’s products was “due to a policy requirement.” He notes that this policy is no longer in effect and that this paved the way for the extension of tracker blocking in the company’s products.
DuckDuckGo has not embedded any Microsoft scripts on its website or in any company apps or extensions.
Microsoft is also DuckDuckGo’s advertising partner. DuckDuckGo and Microsoft have entered into an agreement that Microsoft will not use click-through interactions to profile users. The data is also not stored or shared, “other than for accounting purposes” according to Weinberg.
DuckDuckGo’s apps will not block certain Microsoft scripts from running on third-party sites used for conversion tracking. The script is loaded on the target site after interacting with an ad to track conversions. Weinberg reveals that DuckDuckGo users can disable ads in DuckDuckGo’s search settings to prevent this from happening.
DuckDuckgo plans to create a better conversion tracking solution that replaces the current method.
To improve transparency, DuckDuckGo has made its tracker protection list publicly available. Additionally, its products display more information in the privacy dashboard regarding third-party requests.
Interested users can check out a new support page that provides details about the company’s web tracking protections.
Weinberg does not provide details on how his company and Microsoft came to the new agreement and the removal of the unfriendly policy. Whether the controversy has hurt DuckDuckgo’s growth or reputation remains to be seen. Clearly, some users weren’t too happy with the reveal. It’s hard to earn trust, but easy to play it.
Now you: do you use DuckDuckGo Search or the company’s other products?