DuckDuckGo rolls out new Microsoft blockers after backlash

(Image credit: DuckDuckGo)

DuckDuckGo is looking to douse the fire that started in late June, when researchers discovered its mobile browser permitted Microsoft’s trackers to operate, while blocking those of Google, and Facebook.

In a blog post published earlier today, the company CEO and founder, Gabriel Weinberg, sought to clarify the issue and set out a series of improvements.

As per the post, the third-party tracker scripts from Microsoft are now blocked from loading across DuckDuckGo's browsing apps (iOS and Android) and browser extensions (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, and Opera). 

“This expands our 3rd-Party Tracker Loading Protection, which blocks identified tracking scripts from Facebook, Google, and other companies from loading on third-party websites, to now include third-party Microsoft tracking scripts,” Weinberg said.

DuckDuckGo tracking protections

Weinberg further explained how the company was “limited” in applying its third-party tracker protection program on Microsoft’s tracking scripts, due to a policy requirement related to DuckDuckGo’s use of Bing as a source for search results. 

The company seems to have ditched the requirement in the meantime: “We’re glad this is no longer the case,” the CEO said. “We have not had, and do not have, any similar limitation with any other company.”

In a separate note shared with TechRadar Pro, the company explained it believes the issues were blown out of proportion.

“To help clear up some other misconceptions floating around,” said the firm, “Microsoft scripts were never embedded in our search engine or apps, which do not track you. Websites insert these scripts for their own purposes, and so they never sent any information to DuckDuckGo.”

DuckDuckGo also says that to suggest the company previously allowed "all or even most" Microsoft tracking attempts in its browser “would not be correct”.

“Prior to this update, we were already blocking most MSFT scripts from loading and further restricting Microsoft tracking through our other web tracking protections, like blocking Microsoft’s third-party cookies in our browsers," said the firm.

Websites use tag managers to load multiple other scripts, including those of Microsoft. Because of that, “those requests were already being blocked” by protections before this update, DuckDuckGo added.

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Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.