The Crypto-Driven Browser CEO (opens in new tab) Brave criticized rival DuckDuckGo for its affiliation with Microsoft and the wider online tracker (opens in new tab) controversy.
For the uninitiated, DuckDuckGo’s mobile browser was recently discovered to allow Microsoft’s trackers to (opens in new tab) operate, blocking those of Google and Facebook. Zach Edwards, the security researcher who discovered the issue, later also found that trackers related to the bing.com and linkedin.com domains were also being allowed through the blocks.
“For blocking non-search trackers (e.g. in our browser) we block most third-party trackers (opens in new tab)“, said DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg at the time. “Unfortunately, our Microsoft search distribution agreement prevents us from doing more with Microsoft properties. However, we have been pushing continuously and hope to do more soon.”
But now, Brave CEO Brendan Eich says Edwards wasn’t being honest, as DuckDuckGo also allows Microsoft’s trackers to bypass blocking third-party cookies, via attached URL parameters.
“Trackers try to bypass blocking cookies by attaching identifiers to URL query parameters to identify you across websites,” he said, further stating that DuckDuckGo knows all this very well.
“DuckDuckGo removes ‘gclid’ from Google and ‘fbclid’ from Facebook,” said Eich.
“Test it yourself by visiting [DuckDuckGo]macOS browser. The ‘fbclid’ value is removed. However, DuckDuckGo does not apply this protection to Microsoft’s ‘msclkid’ query parameter. Microsoft documentation specifies that ‘msclkid’ exists to circumvent third-party cookie protections in browsers (including the Safari browser engine used by DDG on Apple operating systems).”
DuckDuckGo vehemently disagrees with Eich’s conclusions, saying it is misleading readers.
“What Brendan seems to be referring to here is just our ad clicks, which are protected in our agreement with Microsoft as strictly no-profile (private)” The register (opens in new tab) quoted a company spokesperson as saying.
“These ads are protected by privacy and how he frames them is ultimately misleading. Brendan, of course, has kept the fact that our ads are private and there’s really nothing new here as everything has already been released.” .