We discussed privacy search engine Duckduckgo back in June, and noted how the NSA and PRISM scandals had caused a massive rise in its use,
‘It took 1445 days to get 1M searches, 483 days to get 2M searches, and then just 8 days to pass 3M searches.” Duckduckgo Twitter, June 2013.
Yesterday Duckduckgo announced in its newsletter that in 2013 over one billion searches were made using the service.
This demonstrates growing public awareness of the extent to which governments and commercial companies spy on us and harvest data about our internet behaviour for ends that many are not happy with.
Duckduckgo uses Google, Bing! and other large search engine’s algorithms, but anonymizes the search requests and does not track users through either Cookie ID’s (cookies deposited in your browser’s cookies folder that can be used to trace search requests) or IP logging. Gabriel Weinberg, the CEO and founder of Duckduckgo, ‘The Search Engine that Vows Not to Track You’ has stated that ‘if the FBI comes to us, we have nothing to tie back to you’.
This has obviously struck a chord with an increasingly privacy conscious public, but some notes of caution have been expressed over the fact that it based in the United States, and is therefore subject to the Patriot Act, Pen Orders and the like, which can be used be legally compel DuckDuckGo to log searches, while using a gag order to prevent it from publicizing the fact. This man certainly thinks that Duckduckgo is not to be trusted!
If this worries you, then you may want to try out anonymous Dutch search engine StartPage (formerly Ixquick). Like Duckduckgo, StartPage promises not to collect or share any personal information, and certification from European Privacy Seal and the Dutch Data Protection Authority to back this up.