Privacy-focused search engine, DuckDuckGo, may not actually be as private as it claims.

According to security researcher Zach Edwards, DuckDuckGo made an exception for collecting advertising data as requested by its business partner, Microsoft. The search engine’s mobile browsers don’t block certain requests made by Microsoft, even though DuckDuckGo has a built-in tracker blocking browser.

Edwards found this out by examining DuckDuckGo browser data from Workplace.com, which is owned by Facebook. Microsoft-placed tracking scripts were still in communication with domains owned by the tech giant.

Gabriel Weinberg, CEO of DuckDuckGo (DDG), revealed that a partnership between the two companies prevents them from stopping Microsoft scripts from loading. The company has reiterated that this is limited to the DDG browser, and not the actual search engine itself.

Skepticism regarding the decision is understandable, as it goes against what the company purportedly stands for. It’s hard to see a privacy-based platform allowing another company to track their services. Weinberg has stated that the company is working on changing the current status quo with Microsoft, however it appears to create a difficult dilemma.

In order to provide users with relevant searches, DDG needs to utilize a larger search engine (like Google, or in this case, Bing) to help add more accurate results. It would make sense then that the parent company of those engines decides the rules, meaning more leeway in user tracking.

For those who are off-put by this news it may be better to just stick to the DDG search engine and not the browser, for now.

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