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DuckDuckGo adds privacy features
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Security & privacy

Sick of Google’s tracking? DuckDuckGo just added all these privacy features

There are plenty of search engines to choose from, but not all are equal. Google Search, of course, is the most widely used, with billions of searches daily. But everything you do on Google gets tied to your account. Tap or click here for eight ways Google constantly invades your privacy — and how to fix it.

Apple users can go through the Safari browser’s native search engine. Or, if you prefer the super-secure Brave browser, its built-in search functions limit the collection of your data. But many others use DuckDuckGo for its focus on privacy.

The search engine made some changes recently. Read on to see how it is taking steps to increase the security of your private information and search data. 

Here’s the backstory

DuckDuckGo claims to stand for user privacy, but in May this year, an investigation found that it has a syndicated search content contract with Microsoft. DuckDuckGo allows Microsoft to ignore some of its tracker blocking features.

In a recent blog post, founder Gabriel Weinberg addresses the claims, explaining that the company “didn’t meet their expectations” regarding web tracking. As a result, the search engine is rolling out several updates to be more transparent about tracking.

For the first change, the “3rd-Party Tracker Loading Protection” will now include Microsoft in addition to blocking identifying tracking scripts from Facebook and Google. The change results from the previous Microsoft agreement expiring where DuckDuckGo used Bing as a source for private search results.

“We’re glad this is no longer the case. We have not had, and do not have, any similar limitation with any other company,” Weinberg explains in the blog post.

Public block list and new web tracking protection help page

Another change the company is rolling out over the coming days is better explaining all the web tracking protections through a new help page. It is also making its tracker protection list publicly available so you can see what kind of data is blocked by DuckDuckGo.

Other changes include:

  • Updating the Privacy Dashboard within its app and extensions to show more information about third-party requests and which ones have been blocked.
  • See which other third-party requests have loaded, with reasons for both when available.

“Users now have one place to look if they want to understand the different kinds of web privacy protections we offer on the platforms they use. It also shows what’s in development for this part of our product roadmap,” Weinberg explains.

Addressing the elephant in the room

To tackle the issue that caused many users to question the privacy claims regarding Microsoft, DuckDuckGo is working towards private ad conversions. Weinberg explains that advertising on the search engine is done in partnership with Microsoft. But it has come to a privacy agreement with the tech giant.

He says that Microsoft has committed not to profile users on ad clicks, so “when you click on a Microsoft-provided ad that appears on DuckDuckGo, Microsoft Advertising does not associate your ad-click behavior with a user profile.”

Weinberg gives a relatively detailed explanation of how the company achieves this, as advertisers still require statistics. As a result, it is working on architecture for private ad conversions that can be externally validated as non-profiling.

He notes that other companies are also working toward private advertising conversion. Safari is working on Private Click Measurement, and Firefox is working on Interoperable Private Attribution.

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