DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser app does not block Microsoft trackers

May 25, 2022

DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser isn't totally private, a security researcher has revealed. The privacy-focused search engine's app, for iOS and Android, is not blocking trackers from Microsoft.

DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser app does not block Microsoft trackers

The news came to light when security researcher, Zach Edwards, who was conducting a security audit of the browser, found that the app blocked trackers from Google and Facebook. He observed that the app didn't block Microsoft trackers. Screenshots and messages posted by Edwards on Twitter reveal that the app let the trackers run on Bing and LinkedIn's domains. This in turn puts the user's privacy at risk, since the Redmond company can collect information such as the IP address, user agent, and other relevant data.

The app includes, among other things, a tracker blocker and a cookie blocker to protect the privacy of users. The description of DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser on the App Store and Google Play Store reads as follows,

"Escape Website Tracking - Tracker Radar automatically blocks hidden third-party trackers we can find lurking on websites you visit in DuckDuckGo, which stops the companies behind those trackers from collecting and selling your data."

When an app has a description like that, you would expect it to apply to all websites, wouldn't you? That's why the fact that it doesn't block Microsoft's trackers is a problem, it should have been upfront about the issue.

Why does DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser allow trackers from Microsoft?

Bing is one of the many sources from where DuckDuckGo pulls the results from. In case you aren't aware of it, the privacy-focused search engine has an agreement with Microsoft, to display contextual ads in its search results. These ads were generally believed to be non-tracking, as the service does not profile its users.

duckduckgo browser android

Gabriel Weinberg, the founder and CEO of DuckDuckGo, responded to Edwards' findings, confirming that the browser allows Microsoft trackers.

dukduckgo microsoft ads

He explained that the search engine ensured the anonymity of users when search results are loaded, and that this includes advertisements that are displayed. But, it appears that the internet company's agreement with Microsoft prevents DuckDuckGo from blocking its trackers.

duckduckgo ads privacy policy

Is safe to use?

Yes, it is. While the browser has been found guilty of allowing said trackers, Weinberg has confirmed the search engine remains untainted. So, there's a bit of good news amidst this chaos. I would still advise using an ad blocker, like uBlock Origin or AdGuard, to protect yourself from trackers. It is unclear if the macOS browser is affected, but given the nature of the issue, it is likely affected as well.

In a statement sent to Bleeping Computer, Weinberg said that his company is working with Microsoft on removing the restriction to block the trackers. He also defended DuckDuckGo's browser, stating that it blocks third-party tracking scripts before they load on sites, instead of following other browsers that just offer 3rd-party cookie protection and fingerprint protection. The company will also update its app store descriptions to provide more information.

The timing of the discovery is particularly bad for DuckDuckGo, as it had criticized Google's privacy practices just a couple of weeks ago. It had proudly announced that its Chrome extension blocked Google's new tracking methods, such as Topics and FLEDGE.

Practice what you preach, DuckDuckGo.

References: Zach Edwards, Gabriel Weinberg 1,2, DuckDuckGo Ads policy

DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser app does not block Microsoft trackers
Article Name
DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser app does not block Microsoft trackers
Security researcher finds that DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser app for iOS and Android does not block Microsoft trackers.

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  1. bruh said on August 18, 2023 at 1:25 pm

    Uhh, this has already been possible – I am not sure how but remember my brother telling me about it. I’m not a whatsapp user so not sure of the specifics, but something about sending the image as a file and somehow bypassing the default compression settings that are applied to inbound photos.

    He has also used this to share movies to whatsapp groups, and files 1Gb+.

    Like I said, I never used whatsapp, but I know 100% this isn’t a “brand new feature”, my brother literally showed me him doing it, like… 5 months ago?

  2. 💥 said on August 18, 2023 at 3:55 pm

    Martin, what happened to those: 12 Comments ( Is there a specific justifiable reason why they were deleted?

    Hmm, it looks like the gHacks website database is faulty, and not populating threads with their relevant cosponsoring posts.

  3. 45 RPM said on August 19, 2023 at 6:29 pm

    The page on ghacks this is on represents the best of why it has become so worthless, fill of click-bait junk that it’s about to be deleted from my ‘daily reads’.

    It’s really like “Press Release as re-written by some d*ck for clicks…poorly.” And the subjects are laughable. Can’t wait for “How to search for files on Windows”.

    1. owl said on August 20, 2023 at 12:51 am

      > The page on ghacks this is on represents the best of why it has become so worthless, fill of click-bait junk…

      Sadly, I have to agree.

      Only Martin and Ashwin are worth subscribing to.
      Especially Emre Çitak and Shaun are the worst ones.

      If intended “Clickbait”, it would mark the end of Ghacks Technology News.
      Ghacks doesn’t need crappy clickbaits. Clearly separate articles from newer authors (perhaps AIs and external sales person or external advertising man) as just “Advertisements”!

      We, the subscribers of Ghacks, urge Martin to make a decision.

  4. chessandonions said on August 20, 2023 at 12:40 am

    because nevermore wants to “monetize” on every aspect of human life…

  5. Frank Rizzo said on August 20, 2023 at 11:52 pm

    “Threads” is like the Walmart of Social Media.

  6. Ashray said on August 21, 2023 at 4:06 pm

    How hard can it be to clone a twitter version of that as well? They’re slow.

  7. Paul(us) said on August 21, 2023 at 5:16 pm

    Yes, why not mention how large the HD files can be?
    Why, not mention what version of WhatsApp is needed?
    These omissions make the article feel so bare. If not complete.

    1. Paul(us) said on August 21, 2023 at 5:18 pm

      Sorry posted on the wrong page.

  8. Marc said on August 21, 2023 at 6:00 pm

    such a long article for such a simple matter. Worthless article ! waste of time

  9. plusminus_ said on August 21, 2023 at 7:54 pm

    I already do this by attaching them via the ‘Document’ option.

  10. John G. said on August 21, 2023 at 11:43 pm

    I don’t know what’s going on here at Ghacks but it’s obvious that something is broken, comments are being mixed whatever the article, I am unable to find some of my later posts neither. :S

  11. Tom Hawack said on August 23, 2023 at 2:28 pm

    Quoting the article,
    “As users gain popularity, the value of their tokens may increase, allowing investors to reap rewards.”

    Besides, beyond the thrill and privacy risks or not, the point is to know how you gain popularity, be it on social sites as everywhere in life. Is it by being authentic, by remaining faithful to ourselves or is it to have this particular skill which is to understand what a majority likes, just like politicians, those who’d deny to the maximum extent compatible with their ideological partnership, in order to grab as many of the voters they can?

    I see the very concept of this as unhealthy, propagating what is already an increasing flaw : the quest for fame. I won’t be the only one to count himself out, definitely.

    1. Tom Hawack said on August 23, 2023 at 2:34 pm

      @John G. is right : my comment was posted on [] and it appears there but as well here at []

      This has been lasting for several days. Fix it or at least provide some explanations if you don’t mind.

  12. Tom said on August 24, 2023 at 11:53 am

    > Google Chrome is following in Safari’s footsteps by introducing a new feature that allows users to move the Chrome address bar to the bottom of the screen, enhancing user accessibility and interaction.

    Firefox did this long before Safari.

  13. Mavoy said on September 16, 2023 at 2:17 pm

    Basically they’ll do anything except fair royalties.

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