DuckDuckGo is unable to guarantee your anonymity on the Internet

DuckDuckGo, the search engine that presents itself as the anti-Googleturns out to be unable to guarantee complete anonymity of its users. In a series of responses posted on Twitter, Gabriel Weinberg, the CEO of the American company, admits that the measures to protect Internet users against ad trackers are not as effective as promised: “We have always been extremely careful to never promise anonymity when browsing outside of our search engine, because that is frankly not possible given the evolution of trackers”, explains Gabriel Weinberg. The leader states that “when you load our search results, you are anonymous, including vis-à-vis advertisements”.

In other words, users of DuckDuckGo web browser find themselves at the mercy of some ad trackers as soon as they visit any website outside of the search engine. Gabriel Weinberg defends himself by assuring that DuckDuckGo offers much better privacy protection than the competition. This revelation, however, risks tarnishing the reputation of the browser. As a reminder, DuckDuckGo owes its success to its respectful approach to privacy and its zero tolerance policy against advertising cookies.

Anonymity according to DuckDuckGo complicated by Microsoft

On its page on the Play Store, the browser does not hesitate to present itself as a “all-in-one privacy app that helps protect your online activities” thanks to a “protection against third-party trackers”. Moreover, the company does not hesitate to regularly tackle Google’s tracking methods, his pet peeve. Gabriel Weinberg’s speech follows the discovery of a security researcher named Zack Edwards. While investigating the browser web feed for iOS and Android, the expert discovered that Microsoft trackers were authorized by DuckDuckGo on Third Party Sites. He shared his discovery on Twitter, with supporting evidence.

According to Zack Edwards, the browser has implemented a whitelist of authorized trackers, like those of LinkedIn and Bing. It turns out that user data is openly collected by Microsoft. The American giant takes over the IP address and the user-agent. This is an information string that contains, among other things, the version of the operating system and the web browser. Through this string, sites get information about how they should display certain web pages.

In response, the CEO of DuckDuckGo recalled thatan agreement had been made with Microsoft. This commercial partnership prevents the browser from blocking the tracers deployed by the group’s services. To extract information from the Bing search engine, DuckDuckGo was forced to add exceptions to its blocking system. The engine indeed draws its search results from other services, such as Bing.

Gabriel Weinberg clarifies that the agreement has never been hidden from the general public. However, he undertakes to work “with Microsoft to remove or reduce this limited restriction”. The manager specifies that Microsoft is not able to trace the identity of the Internet user. Unfortunately, the company is not free to say more about how data is processed by Microsoft. A confidentiality agreement has indeed been signed.

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DuckDuckGo is unable to guarantee your anonymity on the Internet


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