back to article DuckDuckGo says Hell, Hell, No to those Microsoft trackers after web revolt

DuckDuckGo has finally mostly cracked down on the third-party Microsoft tracking scripts that got the alternative search engine into hot water earlier this year. In May, DDG admitted its supposedly pro-privacy mobile browser wasn't blocking certain Microsoft trackers, while actively blocking other types of third-party trackers …

  1. Piro Silver badge

    DeadDoneGone

    I don't use or recommend it any longer. They keep making questionable decisions.

    1. DenTheMan

      Re: DeadDoneGone

      Nothing has changed, it always being a Microsoft Trojan.

      The anti Google blurb always talked about the multiple sources used yet 99.9% of the results from DuckDuck were always Bing.

      The positive angle for this search is that at least it improved Bing, the internet is a natural monopoly makes it totally imossible for anyone to compete.

      From day 1 I have referred to it as DuckDuckBing.

      1. steviebuk Silver badge

        Re: DeadDoneGone

        I was, for a while, trying to use their search while at work. After a few months I gave up as, sadly, the results back from a search were always piss poor and sometimes totally irrelevant.

        1. Mike 137 Silver badge

          Re: DeadDoneGone

          "sometimes totally irrelevant"

          Unlike Goooooooooogle, whose results are increasingly mostly irrelevant.

    2. Mad Dave

      Re: DeadDoneGone

      Its almost as if the guy who invented 'The Names Database' is in the business of capturing user data to monetise.

    3. Potemkine! Silver badge

      Re: DeadDoneGone

      Their mobile browser is not that bad.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: DeadDoneGone

        Yeah, I use their mobile browser, coupled with startpage.com for searches, at least until the Reg reveals any data leaks, intentional or otherwise, there.

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: DeadDoneGone

      my main concern has little to do with what happens if I click on an ad. Once I end up on an advertised web page, any information about that ad can easily be tracked outside of anything Duck Duck Go allows (as far as I can tell), or at least _I_ could (most likely) write code to make that happen.

      My biggest concern is a combination of tracking my search terms over time along with what non-advertised web sites I have visited. As far as I can tell, Duck Duck Go BLOCKS those things. (and if I access web sites that might try to track me everywhere I go, including work-related stuff like slack, they get accessed from a very sand-boxed web browser, usually one that deletes all history on exit).

      And really what other alternative IS there that is better behaved? I have not yet found one. But, there's no stopping anyone from doing such a thing, and if a better one comes along, I'll probably use it.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ha.....Cisco......Fort Meade.......

    So, here's the story:

    (1) An enquiring investigator finds a "bug" in some Cisco device or other

    (2) Cisco announce a patch.....needs to be implemented immediately

    ......but the bit we never hear revealed:

    (3) The original "bug" was sponsored by the friendly folk in Fort Meade

    (4) The "patch" is actually a more advanced (and less visible) version of the same "bug"

    (5) ....or in some cases, the "patch" is also pushing additional spyware

    .....and you are told (over and over again) just how dangerous Huawei equipment is supposed to be!!!

    Don't make me laugh!!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ha.....Cisco......Fort Meade.......

      If you have proof of any of those allegations, you don't seem willing to share it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ha.....Cisco......Fort Meade.......

        https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/may/12/glenn-greenwald-nsa-tampers-us-internet-routers-snowden

      2. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: Ha.....Cisco......Fort Meade.......

        A mate was installing a Mesh network in his house earlier in the year. He asked for my help in placing the various bits of kit around the place to get the best results. He’d bought Linksys Velop and whilst we were having a chat before doing anything I asked why he’d chosen the Linksys. He said he’d found an not vey old copy of Which who said they were good.

        I said that’s great but don’t use their app for setup, there’s a way of doing it locally instead. He protested that he’d used it at a holiday home during their staycation without any issues and it was easy to use.

        I pointed out that he was giving Linksys his wifi password, which was stored in the cloud and this was dangerous. He couldn’t see any problems so I showed him this https://www.theregister.com/2020/04/15/linksys_wifi_password_reset_malware_app/

        And this

        https://www.linksys.com/support-article?articleNum=317063

        He was not happy about that and had a fit when he realised what the app did and where his data was stored. I said it was perfect for miscreants or a TLA to harvest lots of wifi passwords.

    2. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Re: Ha.....Cisco......Fort Meade.......

      "(3) The original "bug" was sponsored by the friendly folk in Fort Meade

      Never ascribe to malice what can be perfectly explained by incompetence:- "Caused by improper authentication checks..."

      The overwhelming majority of vulnerabilities are down to sloppy coding without thought for security (see the OWASP top 10 - which has hardly changed in all the years it's been published). The plain fact is that many developers of critical systems just haven't a clue and don't learn. So it's perfectly possible that even if "Fort Meade" did demand the inclusion of a bug it might well itself be buggy enough not to work.

  3. xyz

    My name is unique and...

    DDG/Bing still can't find me. It presumes my surname is a typo and gives me pages of guff about people who's forename + "" + surname sounds like mine. Bet if I typed "prawn" into it, I'd get back furry bits up close. Useless POS.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: My name is unique and...

      So your SEO isn't very good, if that's your goal. Sorry to hear that. Search engines have to deal with misspellings all the time, so if the people with names like but not identical to yours are more often searched for, they'll show up. You can try quotation marks if this is annoying you. My anecdotal experience has been that DDG's search results have been good enough for my use cases for years, but I wouldn't expect them to be perfect about it.

      By the way, if you type in prawn, you get a definition, a wikipedia page, a bunch of pages about prawns, shrimp, and their uses in cookery, and a system called PRAWN.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: My name is unique and...

        Why do search engines have to cope with misspellings?

        The suggestions I get for any number of perfectly valid searches, where the search engine has presumed that what I've typed was a typo, and (incorrectly) substituted what it though I meant (and not actually searched for what I asked) really gets up my nose, as my wife will attest.

        What this does is to make people lazy, so they don't care how to spell things correctly.

        I am happy for there to be fuzzy searches. They can be useful. But not the default.

        It seems that many of the search engines just totally ignore the old ways of specifying exact searches, exact word order and all the other things that you used to do to be able to filter out the dross they want you to look at, even in so-called 'advanced' search.

        And it's not just search engines. Amazon and other commerce sites are very fond of doing the same, frequently burying what you want in a mountain of things that just don't fit the search.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: My name is unique and...

          "Why do search engines have to cope with misspellings?"

          Because their users misspell things. Sometimes, it's deliberate (I know people who use a search engine if they don't know the spelling of a word so they can check in a dictionary that the corrected one is accurate). Sometimes, it's just typos. Often, it's because users don't always spell correctly and would prefer getting search results for what they probably want instead of useless ones until they correct themselves or a note telling them to fix their spelling. The people writing the engine software see that as a feature, and whether you like it or not, that's what they've chosen to do.

          1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

            Re: My name is unique and...

            Thank you for stating the bleeding obvious. I actually do know what they're trying to do, but you're reinforcing my argument. People don't bother to spell or type correctly because the search engines will correct for them!

            Meanwhile, it makes like hell for people who search for obscure things.

            Look. My spelling has always been crap, I'm one of the people who should benefit, but I don't want it. I'm happy to put up with the bad results if I spell what I'm searching for wrong, just so that I get what I search for when I actually do get it right.

            And don't say "just log in and set your preferences". The search companies slurp enough by inferring who I am from what I do, without me explicitly telling them.

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: My name is unique and...

              There are more people in the search engine's market research who don't want to have to correct their spelling than people like you who want the search to fail under those conditions. Yes, that's obvious by their actions. I'm not sure why you asked for an explanation if you knew this already.

              Your only options are to find a different search engine that does it less or learn the advanced search syntax that they support, which in your case will primarily be the quotation marks but there are others. If you're searching using a general search engine frequently, this is worth learning instead of insisting that the search engines change what they'll do with general terms, an insistence they will ignore. You may also want to use more tools to perform your search. The more searches you perform, the more necessary it is to refine the tools you use.

        2. swm Silver badge

          Re: My name is unique and...

          My wife once typed "pron..." to get the pronunciation of a word. The auto correct changed this to porn and she still gets suggested pornography on her searches and elsewhere.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    full blocks would be added against Redmond.

    I assume this means MS have solved this 'issue' by another technological solution...

    1. Fred Daggy Bronze badge

      Re: full blocks would be added against Redmond.

      Pretty sure that DDG share of the search market would be statistical noise. And even if it wasn't, the other 96% of users would yield much better returns for search companies.

      Bing because it's there by default on the default browser on the dominant Operating System. Google because it's a verb and a noun. DDG - well, one has to know what they are going and go out of they way.

      Turning off Javascript, using a reasonable blocker for the rate exception and DDG. That's probably about 99.9% sorted. Avoid Amazon and Facebook. However, I am sure something will leak out at some point.

  5. v13

    Microsoft being Microsoft

    You have to give them credit though. In the last 10 years Microsoft managed to turn everyone's opinion and make them believe that everyone else is evil and that they are good. Even though they're still following the exact same practices. Their marketing is probably the best in the world. Oracle has the lawyers but Microsoft has marketing.

  6. sabroni Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Hang on

    I search on DuckDuckGo, click a link to visit another site, click an Advert on that other site, and DuckDuckGo can't protect me from the scripts in that advert?

    And you say that like it's a massive fucking surprise to you?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hang on

      No, in the example, the advert is clicked on from DDG results. Still not a massive surprise, I agree, however still slightly at odds with DDG's self-marketing as a privacy browser.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm continually surprised by the technical ineptitude of people younger than me.

    The idea that younger people are digital natives is more or less wrong - at least in so far as supposedly having more knowledge of the workings of the digital world.

    Everything is streamlined and you're piped down the intended path so you never need to figure out why anything works or what makes it tick.

    I've had young people shocked that I use an ad-blocker, cause they thought they thought it was illegal. The digital world is taken at face value, because that (mostly) works.

    The culture is more online and digital, but the users are as inept as ever - and for a lot of new stuff, that includes me. And I think there might well be some truth to the notion that since only "old" people are scammed online, young folks almost take that to mean they can't be scammed, so they get lapse in security or engage in risky clicking a lot more.

  8. breakfast
    WTF?

    Batbing

    Disappointed that MS were using bat.bing.com when badda.bing.com was right there.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Batbing

      crosby.bing.com

      chandler.bing.com

      maraschino.bing.com

      bong.bing.com

      web.bing.com

      absor.bing.com

      grab.bing.com

      bri.bing.com

      Really they had so many better options.

  9. An_Old_Dog Silver badge
    Flame

    Terminology

    Why did the author use the euphemism "harvested" in referring to Twitter users' personal details, instead of the correct term, "stolen"?

    1. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Re: Terminology

      instead of the correct term, "stolen"

      Possibly because (under English law at least) 'steal' means to 'permanently deprive' the victim of the asset. If the data are harvested (i.e. copied) but the source is not then deleted, the data have not been stolen.

      1. FrogsAndChips

        Re: Terminology

        Possibly also because 'harvest' conveys the meaning of 'mass collection', i.e the handles could easily be retrieved in bulk rather than individually.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Terminology

          Yes, and it's a term of art in IT security.

          Shall we complain about, say, the use of "facial recognition" rather than "guessing"? We could be here all day.

      2. An_Old_Dog Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Terminology

        I take your point, but I don't think it's sufficient. If someone commits "intellectual property theft" by photographing the plans for, say, Intel's new chip-making machine, Intel has suffered economic damages (loss of competitive advantage) even though Intel has not been deprived of the duplicated plans.

        As pointed out by a reader below, "harvesting" does imply mass collection. But the word "harvesting" has connotations of "goodness" -- farmers harvest wheat fields, and that's good, right? By extension, the term "data harvesting" carries connotations of goodness, or at least of acceptability. In the case of personal details, it is not acceptable.

        Clever corporate spin-doctors carefully phrase things to imply goodness, or neutrality, when the things they are describing are bad. Computer geeks are frequently terrible at clearly and accurately naming things, and once everyone starts using a deficient-or-inaccurate term, we're pretty much stuck with it. But ya gotta fight the good fight, so hence my original post.

  10. MJI Silver badge

    Not really into tin plate toys

    They are a bit pre war.

    But can't we chuck bat into HOSTS?

    Oh and all search engines are pants compared to 15 years ago when they actually found what you wanted,

    Remember when yahoo was actually good?

  11. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

    They would say that

    "Police use of [Seifan] was solely for the purpose of preventing and solving serious crimes, and subject to court warrants, and that no intentional actions were taken in contravention of the law," the Israeli Police said in a statement to Haaretz.

    That's all right then.

  12. Tim99 Silver badge

    Failing all else

    DDG is my normal browser, much of the time it gets it right. When it doesn’t, I use a bang…

    To search anonymously with Google: "my search" !g - - For Wikipedia: my search !w

  13. Aussie Doc
    Joke

    Don't worry...

    ...as long as nobody types 'DuckDuckGo' into DuckDuckGo we should be fine.

    1. FrogsAndChips

      Re: Don't worry...

      Sshhhhh, do you want to upset the Elders of the Internet?

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