DuckDuckGo blocks trackers (unless they contractually agreed not to)

Photo by Jack Dong / Unsplash

Thomas Claburn wrote in The Register this week about security research done by Zach Edwards into the DuckDuckGo browsers (available on most platforms near you, including my Android phone's default). DDG blocks third-party cookies but due to a contractual agreement for Bing search data, allows Microsoft's tracking scripts to run on third-party websites.

While the tracking code is not included on the DuckDuckGo search results - a separate product offered by the company to provide an alternative to Google Search - the multi-platform browser does not block the tracking scripts from loading. DDG's browser is pitched as a more-private alternative to Google's Chrome browser, automatically blocking tracking scripts, third-party cookies, and other privacy violations from following you around the web.

In an explanation, DuckDuckGo's CEO Gabriel Weinberg - after the company revised the description of their browser product on several app marketplaces - defined the behavior of Microsoft's trackers as only providing data back to Redmond when a user actually clicks on an ad.

I'm still a Chrome user for now on desktop, but my phone has too much sensitive location, movement, and biometric data stored on it for me to be comfortable using anything but a privacy-preserving alternative when viewing websites on it. While I'm not surprised that DDG has contractual obligations - that they say they are trying to get out of - in order to get search data, it's a disappointing revelation that they should have been more up-front about. Luckily, since I'm rarely a user of mobile data that doesn't traverse my home network either via direct WiFi connection or VPN, my Pihole should be lending a helping hand.

Jordan Cooks

Jordan Cooks

Jordan listens to too many podcasts, has too many streaming subscriptions, loves dogs, is the Integration Engineer Team Lead at Bitwarden, and makes a mean vegan baked mac and cheeze.
North Bend, OR