Mobile Technology

DuckDuckGo and the NSA Scandal

19th July 2013

The story so far

When you think about search engines it’s not something thrilling and exciting, it’s a bit mundane– however lately the stories around search engines like Google and Yahoo! have sounded more like a James Bond film; involving “America’s Most Wanted”. Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA is the face behind the biggest intelligence breach in recent US history and now may be the worlds most famous spy and whistle blower. In his leak to The Guardian, and it wasn’t just America’s secrets either, there was information about the British government in there too. And it was mostly about privacy. Or the severe lack of it.

He leaked that the NSA (The National Security Agency; the central producer and manager of signals intelligence for the United States, operating under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense) pretty much knows everything you do online. Scary thought, right? Every Google search, even your Gmails are at risk of being tapped into and read. How is what you’re doing this weekend a risk to American and British security? They are unlikely to have hacked into your account so far but it’s still a worrying thought that they can and only because sites like Google are actually selling them the information. Sneaky.


Enter DuckDuckGo, not the children’s game, DuckDuckGo is a search engine that’s been about since 2008 although it’s not exactly well known, ask 100 people and 95 of them will probably guess it’s a Chinese but it’s actually a bit of a ‘hybrid’ search engine, bringing together a complication of about 50 sources including Yahoo! Search BOSS, Wikipedia, Wolfram Alpha, Bing, its own Web crawler, the DuckDuckBot, and others. But most importantly the search engine policy says that it protects privacy, and does not record user information.

This probably explains why the site with getting 50% more traffic when the NSA story leaked. The site doesn’t use cookies or store data about its users’ IP addresses, doesn’t offer user logins, and uses an encrypted connection by default. (Google provides an encrypted connection for logged-in users, but not automatically for non-logged in users.) If the NSA demanded data from DuckDuckGo, there would be none to hand over.

So if you’re looking for a stripped down, easy to use, very private equivalent to Google, this little duck has it all, and with 50% increase in users, looks like people are getting that message.

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