Want To Guard Your Privacy Online? Search the Web With DuckDuckGo

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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.

In this article, I’m going to tell you about DuckDuckGo and why it’s a great way to surf the web if you like your privacy.

DuckDuckGo: What You Need To Know

Internet privacy has become a big deal these days and we all know why: It seems every day, a company is sending a notification to its customers or users about a “privacy incident.”

Because I want to do all I can to prevent the wrong people from getting their hands on my data, I’ve been using DuckDuckGo to access the internet.

What Is DuckDuckGo?

DuckDuckGo is a 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.

Who Owns DuckDuckGo?

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.

How Does DuckDuckGo Get Paid?

Because they don’t have ads, DuckDuckGo gets paid another way: 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.

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

Does DuckDuckGo Share Your Data?

DuckDuckGo says it doesn’t share user data.

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By contrast, 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.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to browsing that is safe, secure and private, DuckDuckGo is the way to go. While it’s not as well known as the Googles of the world, DuckDuckGo delivers the same results minus the tracking. Here are two final pluses:

  • 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 they aren’t stored in a personally identifiable way. Also, you can opt not to use cookies at all.

If you choose to stick with Google, here’s how to control what it shares about you.

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