When we access millions of free contents and services, our data and information are practically the most precious asset of the technological mega-corporations that dominate the Internet. It is nothing new and, in essence, it is the rules of the game. However, there are other times when not everything is so clear, as has been the case with the latest statements about espionage and tracking by Microsoft.
Teams and DuckDuckGo are two online tools that Microsoft uses to track our data and information for its own advertising or to resell to third parties. What has been discovered about them is described below.
In the EdTech Exposed investigation by Human Rights Watch, the same one in which we discovered that millions of minors in Spain had been spied on in online classes during the covid 19 confinement, Microsoft Teams is also indicated. The Microsoft tool with chat and video calls became especially relevant during that time, and it is not as transparent an application as we might think.
The Teams SDK, apart from some tasks necessary for its operation, can give access to advertising businesses in reference such as; precise location (GPS, current location time, location, last known location, WiFi network ID), contacts information (contacts, contacts photo), call log, camera and microphone.
A Microsoft spokesman tried to defend himself by throwing balls out: “We take matters of this nature very seriously and are investigating these allegations; however, Human Rights Watch has not provided enough information […] for us to verify its conclusions.”
DuckDuckGo in the eye of the hurricane
DuckduckGo, the duckling’s search engine, has always shown itself to be the perfect option in search of privacy, becoming the one that includes the Tor Browser. They also have a mobile browser, and as stated in their official description, “DuckDuckGo is a mainstream browser that offers the best protection against third-party trackers while you search and browse, and even access to tracking protections when you receive email and use other applications on your device. With DuckDuckGo, privacy becomes your default option.”
It is to say the least surprising that, pretending to be the perfect anti-tracking browser, DuckDuckGo signed an agreement with Microsoft. DuckDuckGo does indeed block third-party trackers, however, security researchers have found that Microsoft trackers work and may continue to run, while others such as Google and Facebook are being effectively blocked.
Security researcher Zach Edwards, who first discovered the problem, later discovered that trackers related to the bing.com and linkedin.com domains, also owned by Microsoft, were able to get past the blocks. DuckDuckGo apparently has a search syndication deal with Microsoft.
DuckDuckGo CEO and founder Gabriel Weinberg, in response to the researcher’s concern on the matter, confirmed that his browser intentionally allows Microsoft to crawl third-party sites due to a search syndication agreement with Redmond. However, Weinberg has made it clear that this restriction is only in your browser and does not affect the DuckDuckGo search engine.
DuckDuckGo has been transparent about the advertising partnership with Microsoft, but it’s still unclear why they didn’t disclose the authorization of Microsoft trackers until a security researcher discovered it. reported WILDWESTDOMINIO