Is DuckDuckGo Really Private?

Drawing by ShaeC Cooper.

By Guest Blogger, Chris Bonatti, IECA Cybersecurity Consultant, Casper, Wyoming


Save the date! September 23, “It’s About Identity!” A day of exploring online identity issues from a cybersecurity standpoint in the Blockchain Stampede at the University of Wyoming.


News broke in late May that DuckDuckGo’s privacy browser carved out a special privacy exception for tracking by Microsoft. This news was misinterpreted by many to say that the company’s popular search service was allowing Microsoft to track them, and that it resulted from a previously secret backroom deal with Microsoft. We’re happy to report that the DuckDuckGo search engine is not affected, and that no dark motives appear to have been involved.

It turns out that the DuckDuckGo search engine does use Microsoft’s search services to improve their results, and therefore has syndication and non-disclosure agreements with Microsoft. All the indexing data provided by Microsoft is sanitized by DuckDuckGo, and is 100% tracking free. The syndication agreement, however, contains a provision that the DuckDuckGo privacy browser not block third-party script loading from Microsoft-owned domains, like ‘bing.com’ and ‘linkedin.com’. This is because blocking third-party scripts could very easily cause a malfunction… especially for a large company like Microsoft that owns many domains. The non-disclosure agreement blocked DuckDuckGo from revealing the details of the syndication agreement. The privacy browser still blocks tracking in numerous other ways.

If you would like to know more about privacy threats and their potential ramifications, or would like help with privacy issues, please consider letting IECA help.

For the full IECA newsletter check out: https://www.ieca.com/newsletter/2206-IECA_Cyber_Bulletin.pdf

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