Microsoft Edge Browser tracks users by exposing visited URLs to Bing search engine, raising privacy concerns
Microsoft Edge is the default web browser for Windows 10 but only gets about 11% of the desktop browser market share as of January 2023. Although Microsoft Edge has been lauded for its privacy features, it has recently come under scrutiny for its privacy standards.
A recent report from The Verge revealed that Edge may be compromising user privacy by revealing URLs to Bing, Microsoft’s search engine. This revelation has raised concerns about the browser’s handling of sensitive information.
According to The Verge, Microsoft’s Edge browser appears to be transmitting URLs of the websites visited by users to its Bing API website. The Edge privacy issues were first spotted by Reddit users. They noticed that the latest version of the browser sends a request to bingapis.com with the full URL of almost every webpage visited. Microsoft has acknowledged the issue and informed The Verge that they are currently investigating these reports.
“Searching for references to this URL give very few results, no documentation on this feature at all,” hackermchackface, the Reddit user who first discovered the issue, said.
Although Reddit users were unable to determine the reason behind Edge’s transmission of visited URLs to Bing API site, we enlisted the assistance of Rafael Rivera, a software engineer and one of the developers responsible for EarTrumpet, to investigate the matter. Rivera’s findings indicate that this is part of a recently introduced feature in Edge that was poorly implemented.
“Microsoft Edge now has a creator follow feature that is enabled by default,” says Rivera in a conversation with The Verge. “It appears the intent was to notify Bing when you’re on certain pages, such as YouTube, The Verge, and Reddit. But it doesn’t appear to be working correctly, instead sending nearly every domain you visit to Bing.”
The “Creator Follow” feature in Edge, which enables users to follow their favorite content creators on YouTube and the web, was initially tested by Microsoft last year before being widely released in recent months. If this feature is disabled, URLs are no longer sent to bingapis.com.