back to article Browser tracking protections won't stop tracking, warns DuckDuckGo

Eliminating third-party cookies will not stop companies from tracking web users, says DuckDuckGo, which claims it can help with its desktop browser extensions and mobile apps. In a blog post on Tuesday, the privacy-focused search biz explains that the much discussed plan by Google to eliminate third-party cookies in Chrome by …

  1. Chris G Silver badge

    So, going by DuckDuckGo's claims, Google is not moving forward so much as stepping sideways on privacy. Continuing to slurp as much as before while limiting the benefits to third parties, something of course that leaves Google with something to sell.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Making it harder for everyone else to track is in their own interest now that their browser is a near monopoly across all non-Apple markets. And they still have the Google Analytics tracking for any website that uses Google Ads even when browsed by Safari or Firefox.

    2. Kane Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      "So, going by DuckDuckGo's claims, Google is not moving forward so much as stepping sideways on privacy. Continuing to slurp as much as before while limiting the benefits to third parties, something of course that leaves Google with something to sell."

      Which probably also explains why the changes google are planning to implement have been scheduled for the end 0f 2022 - this gives enough time for all parties concerned to get their house in order so they can return to the status quo of profiling the world + dog.

  2. RegGuy1 Silver badge

    Adblock Plus and No Script. Not perfect, but infinitely better than fuck-all protection.

    Consultation over.

    ... oh, and NO CHROME.

    1. Ozzard
      Black Helicopters

      *checks Firefox add-ons*

      AdBlock Plus (blocked 3 items on this page)

      NoScript (blocked 6 items on this page)

      DecentralEyes

      Facebook Container

      Containerise

      HTTPS Everywhere

      Privacy Badger (blocked 2 items on this page)

      Don't Track Me Google

      ... yeah, no wonder Google doesn't want add-ons being able to access arbitrary features of your browser; some of these would be impossible in upcoming Chrome versions.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        You forgot "RandomUserAgent"

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          And Pi-Hole, one of the blocked domains, showing up in the logs is "www.google-analytics.com", another is "www.googletagmanager.com".

          1. martyn.hare

            Pi-Hole + AdGuard / uBlock Origin

            I get to intercept almost everything before it hits the browser, leaving browser extensions to clean up a bunch of bunch of dead elements. It isn’t perfect but it I block all advertising indiscriminately these days. Even on mobile devices, I still filter everything and very little gets through. I really did try accepting non-creepy ads back into my life but it is too late now. I’m enjoying an ad-free existence and there is no going back.

            Let’s be honest, if all the ad-driven heavy hitters folded tomorrow, we would all just use peer-to-peer services and share directly with one another instead. Early 2000s technologies would make a return with a vengeance to claim their seeders back in a NAT-free IPv6 world with no monopolistic competition to act as a “more convenient solution” to bait the normal folk into submission!

    2. Kev99 Silver badge

      I agree about "NO CHROME". You start that POS hog and you have umpteen processes running gobbling a half gig or more of your memory.

      1. Franco Silver badge

        I've always had a strong dislike of Chrome given Google's tactics of mass drive by downloads to get it on to so many machines. Plus MS's bundled browsers have sucked donkey balls (New version of Edge is at least usable but far from "good")

        However having recently been working on a desktop refresh project where Chrome is the preferred browser, I've had to use it a bit recently for testing GPOs are applying correctly, and it really is not (IMO) a good browser. Slow, clunky, and is determined to ID my country (incorrectly) by geolocation meaning I constantly have to override settings. (This is definitely the browser, because the same sites on the same PC in other browsers work fine)

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Bah, geolocation. I hate it.

          So I'm in Berlin, and I'm trying to look at the UK website of a company which also has a DE website. And the website looks at my IP address, says aha, that's a German location, and promptly serves up the German website instead.

          Is it really so difficult to assume that if someone types .co.uk at the end of a URL, that's where they're actually trying to go?

          (And don't get me started on the BBC - I typed .co.uk, not .com...)

          1. Martin an gof Silver badge

            In the case of the BBC, sometimes they don't have the rights to show certain things outside of the UK so they have at least to try! On mobile I found that Opera via the "data saving" proxy would serve the international BBC News site from within the UK. In the UK the blasted site is very keen to know where you are based and re-arranges the home page to include more stories from "your area". In fact I'm fairly certain it serves different front pages to just about everyone, which isn't always what you need, particularly if you are trying to send someone else to a particular article ("it's on the front page, no honestly, it is for me, I've just refreshed it!")

            El Reg's front page keeps rearranging itself too, but at least it generally has the same stories, just changes their order.

            M.

            1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

              If you are trying to send someone else to a particular article, just send the link.

            2. Franco Silver badge

              Yeah, it's definitely rights issues with the BBC as a lot of the video clips (iPlayer content plus sports highlights) are restricted to the UK. It is annoying when it happens though.

              On the flipside of that there are still US based websites completely unavailable in Europe because they refuse to comply with GDPR.

              1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

                One (i.e. the BBC) could still limit content based on geolocation simply by blanking - ideally with some sort of explanatory message.

                I was heavily involved with iPlayer - the predecessor to Sounds (stupid name) - and know far too much about geographical rights issues. I worked for the Corporation for over thirty years. But just about anything on e.g. the news site is (c) BBC and can be shown anywhere.

          2. Chris G Silver badge

            @ Neil Barnes

            I have exactly the same problems here in Spain with multi national site owners, has some strange results with VPNs servered in odd places too.

        2. Kane Silver badge
          Black Helicopters

          "(New version of Edge is at least usable but far from "good")"

          Don't trust it, it's just chrome wearing a different dress.

          1. Franco Silver badge

            I don't trust it, I'm a Firefox user, but we're almost regressing to the days of little icons saying designed for Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator. Chrome has such a large market share that the internet is often designed around it, so when Firefox doesn't work as expected I use Edge rather than Chrome seeing as it's Chromium based.

            1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

              <sigh>

              If only there were some sort of standard...

              1. Franco Silver badge

                Re: <sigh>

                And if only developers followed them....

                (Not blaming the devs specifically, I know they do what they're told to by management before I get chased out of here with torches and pitchforks)

              2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

                Re: <sigh>

                If only there were some sort of standard...

                The nice thing about standards is the choice, there are so many of them ;)

              3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

                Re: <sigh>

                There's some sort of standard, but a big part of it is WHAT-WG's idiotic "living standard" for HTML 5, so it's not really a standard at all.

                AJAX proponents (first Microsoft, then Google, and people like Jesse James Garret) and WHAT-WG are largely responsible for ruining the web, turning it into the dreadful mess of half-assed Javascript SPAs we have now.

            2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              when Firefox doesn't work as expected I use Edge rather than Chrome seeing as it's Chromium based

              I use Pale Moon as my default browser, but when I need a Chromium browser for some reason I use Comodo Dragon. In theory it's tuned for privacy, and I'd rather not use a Microsoft browser.

      2. beep54

        I do still use Chrome, but it is almost always to play Sudoku or a really crappy spades game. I almost never use it for actual browsing. Never did like it, really.

  3. Sin2x

    It changed default search engine to DDG after installation without warning. Not a good practice.

  4. JDPower Bronze badge

    Nice ad, how much did they pay Reg to run it?

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Perhaps, but they allowed comments. If they were trying to say something particularly untrue the would have disabled comments to avoid being called out on it here.

    2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Not an ad

      No, this isn't an ad and not paid for. Our commercial content is clearly marked as a promotion, sponsored, or a webcast brought to you by an advertiser.

      Sometimes we just like an underdog.

      C.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Not an ad

        An underduck.

    3. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      A site that earns its money from ads runs an article offering ad-blocking advice, and you think it's done for financial reasons?

  5. Korgonzolla

    The whole idea of privacy on the web has started to bother me recently. I know it always should have, but I ignored it as I felt the drawbacks of online advertising and tracking were more than covered by the benefits of free access to web services that would otherwise cost money.

    It might be boredom, but in the past few months I have:

    Ditched Chrome in favour of Firefox. Firefox is a really good browser, so this wasn't a major headache at all. In fact I prefer it over Chrome.

    Finally made use of that Raspberry-Pi and set up a Pi-Hole.

    Set up containers for Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft in Firefox.

    Moved to DuckDuckGo for the majority of my searches.

    Use DecentralEyes extension so web resources such as fonts and web libraries are delivered locally.

    Moved from Gmail and Google services to a small business account in Office365. Yes, I know it's Microsoft, and I'll be downvoted to oblivion by the regulars, but in this instance Microsoft just aren't as evil as Google. I consider 9 euro a month good value for what they offer.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      What a world when MS has become less evil than Google.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        Must admit, I like the MS services I use. I just assume they're too incompetent to do much with any data they snaffle.

        1. sreynolds Silver badge

          Naah I don't trust MS software. There is just too much "telemetry" for my liking.

      2. They call me Mr Nick

        I remember when IBM (remember them) was the great satan. Then one day I woke up and the hate had transferred to Microsoft. Now of course it should be Facebook or maybe Google or Twitter. No, stick with Facebook.

    2. Captain Hogwash

      I expect...

      ...that you'll also be downvoted for using Google, Facebook and Twitter. Especially Facebook. Containers or not, you know you really shouldn't.

    3. butmonkeh

      Thanks for the heads-up about DecentralEyes - now added to my browser extensions along with NoScript, SelfDestructingCookies & CanvasBlocker.

      I also run a Pi (Zero) with PiHole, but also run Unbound (local DNS Server) and pipe everything down a VPN (ProtonVPN).

      On the mobile side, I have DNS66 (from FDroid) running the same blocklist as the Pi for when my phone is on 4g to prevent apps being able to phone home while away from the WiFi.

  6. low_resolution_foxxes Silver badge

    I have recently changed all my browser links on my phone to DuckDuckGo linking to qwant.com (EU search engine, surprisingly good, if occasionally flakey). There are times I miss Google, but very rarely do I find a lack of suitable responses.

    I trust the French on user privacy and it is surprisingly popular in France.

    I will still use Google, with uBlock, for the sole purpose of browsing Facebook. As I do not want or trust FB not to fingerprint my browser. But I have to physically scroll through the Apps list to find Chrome.so 99% of the time I just click DDG (and ruthlessly disable all privacy and ad settings in Google and FB).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Firefox will put Facebook/Instagram in a 'container' by default (there is an add-on that allows you to create multiple containers)

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        I use ForgetMeNot on the desktop Firefox (it's not allowed on Mobile Firefox anymore), which uses containers to help me wipe out cookies and other tracking stuff as needed.

    2. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

      DDG

      Recently I've been using Ecosia instead. Like DDG they repackage Bing search with promises about privacy. Plus some of the profits go to planting trees. (Call me a hippy? I'm old enough to have fond memories of them.)

      I have noticed though that one of the status bar messages is, 'Waiting for bing.com.' Bit of a design flaw there.

      When Bing results aren't good enough I use Startpage, who I believe use Google.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: DDG

        DDG returns better results than Ecosia, at least for me.

        Startpage might be dodgy.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: DDG

          Thanks for that. Another off the list of possibles.

        2. julian.smith
          Mushroom

          Startpage

          Startpage IS dodgy

        3. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. stiine Silver badge

        Re: DDG

        Fond memories of hippies? Or trees?

        1. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

          Re: DDG

          Yes

    3. nematoad Silver badge

      I just click DDG (and ruthlessly disable all privacy and ad settings in Google and FB).

      Yes, me too.

      Though after a YouTube session I delete all the cookies from Google. I have noticed that there seem to be "dark patterns" present as well in the choices dialog. Some of the forms are different from the others i.e. a slider on one part and just an opt-out box in the other. When you go to switch off the YouTube section it stalls and forces you to wait until it appears. Possibly in the hope that you will think something is wrong and close the dialog box before making a choice.

      It would also pay you to check in your cookie cache as Google helpfully slip in one from Doubleclick without asking. Which is nice of them.

      Paranoid? You bet I am, especially when it comes to Google, Amazon and co.

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      As I do not want or trust FB not to fingerprint my browser

      Suggested imrovement.

  7. Kev99 Silver badge

    This article makes it sound like CTRL-SHIFT-DEL has no effect. I guess hitting that combo before & after visiting Google sites or Facebook is a wasted effort.

  8. chivo243 Silver badge

    Ghostery Browser?

    I recently received an invite to try Ghostery browser, as I had to create a login\sign up, I hesitated. Anyone tried Ghostery browser?

  9. Mario Becroft

    Privacy Badger

    Should I be using this instead of Privacy Badger?

    1. julian.smith

      Re: Privacy Badger

      Use both

  10. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "hird-party marketing firms have increased in the use of CNAME DNS records to borrow subdomains from publishers"

    And then somebody will get access to a borrowed subdomain and use it in a scam. Then the lender will act all agrieved.

  11. Steve Graham

    I started to use DuckDuckGo as my main search engine a few years ago. I still do, but it's been driving me nuts.

    There is no way to get it to search for the exact search terms I've entered. Put 'em in quotes. Prefix with plus signs. Add exclusions for the incorrect hits with minus signs. Nothing helps. And what is worse, much worse, is that DDG gives me "hits" in which some of the search terms (or their half-assed guesses about what I "really" meant) don't even occur.

    Yesterday, I even used Ublock Origin to blank their "non-creepy contextual ads" because the awesome power of artificial stupidity was giving me ads which were not remotely related to my search terms. Or anything else in the universe.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "There is no way to get it to search for the exact search terms I've entered. Put 'em in quotes. Prefix with plus signs. Add exclusions for the incorrect hits with minus signs. Nothing helps."

      This seems to be universal nowadays. Given that steering search engines was perfectly possible in the 1968s it's obvious that this steady decline is deliberate. Quantity over quality.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        > This seems to be universal nowadays.

        Because the goal is not serving relevant results, but to serve results that generate profit...

        And without any advanced search controls you have the perfect excuse to place your "sponsored" links where normally they wouldn't appear...

  12. slartybartfast

    The irony being, using ad/tracker blocking plugins, these can hold data about us as they need us to accept a number of permissions before we use them. I settled with the Ghostery plug-in, (along with Firefox’s in built tracker blocker) simply as it requests fewer permissions than other plugins - some plugins want to read and modify privacy settings and store unlimited client side data. I’m sure someone will be along to tell me how untrustworthy Ghostery is though.

    1. blah@blag.com

      I use Firefox (10 years?), Ghostery, Ublock Origin (at least 5) & DDG (about 3). It's not perfect but a reasonable compromise. For the most part I just want to stop ads because of security more than anything, tracking/profiling is just anathema so they can all GTF.

  13. Blackjack Silver badge

    Of course it won't, heck even blocking all cookies doesn't stop tracking.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      I don't think it's going to matter much anymore. If they really want to track you, they can track you come Hell or Hiawatha, simply by using server-side techniques, transparent proxies, unique identifiers embedded in the actual content to make them part and parcel, and other ways to basically say you submit or go walk on the Sun.

    2. ThatOne Silver badge

      > even blocking all cookies doesn't stop tracking

      Indeed, my cookies self-destruct and I always use the usual suspects (NoScript, UBlock, etc.), but there is lately an increasing number of sites which still recognize me when I come back. My money is on the IP address, but I'm too lazy to try if through a VPN they'll lose track. I just try to limit the data I give them so they can't consolidate those partial profiles. Let them track a dozen fragmentary versions of me.

      1. julian.smith
        Big Brother

        If you're too lazy

        If you're too lazy to use a VPN

        Lube up

      2. Blackjack Silver badge

        VPMs sell your data, either set your own custom server or forget about it.

        1. sreynolds Silver badge

          yeah but you lose the privilege of having your traffic mixed in with others.

          Also, do the swiss still punish those who violate privacy with six months prison? Seems to me that if the swiss based entity says it doesn't sell your data, I would be more inclined to trust them

          Many years of pesky governments wanting to spy on their own citizens has given them so pretty decent privacy and secrecy laws. It seems that we just have to see how bad things will become before anyone will do anything about this problem (privacy and secrecy) .

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Then they'll just get tagged for being complicit in a kiddie porn ring. Even if they get off legally, the smear to their reputation the age of Cancel Culture would be enough. Only "bulletproof" hosts in hostile nations have no reputations to lose.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022