Bonum Certa Men Certa

DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser Isn’t Private

Reprinted with permission from Ryan Farmer.

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about DuckDuckGo, the “branding condom” for Microsoft Bing.



The company is basically “fake”. It has a tiny little office, very few employees, almost all of the results are from Microsoft Bing, and it transmits the search parameters to Microsoft to get those results.



"About the only good thing about DuckDuckGo and Microsoft is, they did stop censoring my blog."About the only good thing about DuckDuckGo and Microsoft is, they did stop censoring my blog. I see traffic coming in from them now. I think Microsoft changed their search index and DuckDuckGo changed because Bing did.



The company has been caught exempting Microsoft trackers, then claimed that “Oh yeah, it turns out we had that deal with Microsoft to not block THEIR trackers in our ‘Privacy’ Browser.”



Later, Microsoft let them change the agreement, but the fact that they were dishonest with their users and allowed one of the biggest surveillance monsters through, quietly, shows how much you can trust DuckDuckGo [1] [2] and Gabriel Weinberg.



And it’s even hosted in Microsoft Azure, where Microsoft can take a look at everything that’s going on inside the “DuckDuckGo” server. So they have the technical capabilities to look at who is making the searches, and what the searches are.



DuckDuckGo processing



DuckDuckGo processing



As if this wasn’t enough, DuckDuckGo has tracking scripts and a tracking pixel of their own that follow you around on their site, if you don’t block this, called “Improving DuckDuckGo”.



"Also notice all the Social Media crap it got and something called “bing_market”."Adguard Tracking Protection, one of the ad blocking lists for trackers, includes the tracking pixel and the Improving DuckDuckGo script, so you get warnings from your ad blocker that DuckDuckGo is tracking you.



Also notice all the Social Media crap it got and something called “bing_market”. LOL



But lately, they have themselves a new “scam”. DuckDuckGo “Privacy Browser”.



"Plain old Mozilla Firefox browsing around with no privacy extensions at all is actually more private than DuckDuckGo on Android."One reason this is a “scam”, so to speak, is that it doesn’t actually block much tracking on Android.



Plain old Mozilla Firefox browsing around with no privacy extensions at all is actually more private than DuckDuckGo on Android.



On iOS, where all browsers inherit whatever Apple has done to WebKit, DuckDuckGo’s browser is better than Android, but still not great.



These are not platform limitations. DuckDuckGo actually just doesn’t block very much tracking.



On Privacy Tests, by far, Brave had the most green checkmarks for blocking Web tracking.



Another reason you know something is “not right” with DuckDuckGo’s “Privacy” Browser, is that the desktop version only supports the least private, least secure operating systems on the market. Windows, and Mac.



It has completely left out Linux distributions, where for the most part the OS is just an OS, and doesn’t send your keystrokes, application launches, crash data, or hard drive contents to anyone, whereas Windows and Mac do, automatically, behind-the-scenes, without asking the user.



Even if DuckDuckGo’s “Privacy Browser” wasn’t questionable, prima facie, they do encourage insecure and non-private operating systems, thus ensuring their users will be spied on by the OS vendors.



"DuckDuckGo actually just doesn’t block very much tracking."The reason why DuckDuckGo can “block Web trackers” and have that hardly matter at all, is because the threat landscape of the Web is constantly growing.



Many years ago, it was sufficient to just block certain ad and tracking servers, and browse with JavaScript turned off.



Today, led by Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla, the Web platform is becoming more menacing.



You can block specific “content”, but the threat actors are operating at a higher scale than ever, leveraging “questionable” Web technologies.



Unless your browser is doing something to partition, sandbox, and disable these technologies, and either most of them or all of them, to confuse these “higher level attacks” and fingerprinting attempts, you’re really not being protected by anything “just blacklisting some resources”.



"It has completely left out Linux distributions, where for the most part the OS is just an OS, and doesn’t send your keystrokes, application launches, crash data, or hard drive contents to anyone, whereas Windows and Mac do, automatically, behind-the-scenes, without asking the user."That’s certainly better than nothing, but it’s not enough.



The most sophisticated thing about Chromium-based Web browsers is how many ways they give the Web site to attack and profile the user. Chrome and Edge are the worst, Brave is fixing a lot of it. At least they try to help the user.



Brave and LibreWolf are the only two desktop browsers left to recommend.



I firmly believe that the only purpose of DuckDuckGo’s Browser is to route traffic to DuckDuckGo (captive audience), and perhaps screw up everyone else’s ad network, but this is the same behavior that you see Microsoft Edge engaging in.

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