Want to guard your privacy online? Search the web with DuckDuckGo


You’d be forgiven if you think the internet search engine game starts and ends with Google. While the Mountain View, California-based company certainly is synonymous with search, unfortunately the same holds true for data breaches and privacy concerns.

On the other hand, you may not know about DuckDuckGo, the search engine that promises not to keep your data. The tradeoff for not mining your data is that DuckDuckGo’s search results lack any personalization. That means things such as your location and search history won’t figure into your results.

DuckDuckGo: What you need to know

DuckDuckGo was launched in 2008 by MIT grad and tech entrepreneur Gabriel Weinberg, who was the company’s only employee for a few years. In 2011, he hired some other folks and moved the company out of his home to some fresh digs in Paoli, Pennsylvania.

The name DuckDuckGo was derived from the popular children’s game Duck Duck Goose, only because Weinberg liked the sound of it. He also enjoyed the idea of creating an online search experience that didn’t track your every move and sell it to marketers.

Many users exclusively use DuckDuckGo to reward them from not profiting from search results.

Internet companies like Google, Bing and Yahoo are legally obligated to share people’s data with the authorities in some cases. “However, search engines are not legally obligated to collect personal information in the first place. They do it on their own volition,” DuckDuckGo says in its privacy policy.

Why would search engines give your search history to law enforcement? Simply because law enforcement asked for it, usually as part of a legal investigation. If you read privacy policies and terms of service carefully you will notice that they say they can give out  your information on court order.

There are a handful of main parameters of online privacy that distinguish DuckDuckGo from Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines. Here are some identifiers that DuckDuckGo does not track:

  • User behavior
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Search history
  • Device type
  • IP address
  • browser cookies

Most search engines work by using what’s known as filter bubbles, which fuel the algorithms that make up what we see on the web. The term was coined by author and media executive Eli Pariser, whose book explained all of this and took Google to task.

3 things to know when you use DuckDuckGo

  • Here’s how DuckDuckGo gets paid: The company may add an affiliate code to some eCommerce sites (e.g. Amazon & eBay) that results in small commissions being paid back to DuckDuckGo when you make purchases at those sites.
  • You can turn off ads: While the search engine is ad-supported, users can opt to turn off ads.
  • No cookies are used by default: If you have changed any settings, then the browser’s cookies will store those changes. But even then, they aren’t stored in a personally identifiable way. Also, you can opt not to use cookies at all.

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