The name DuckDuckGo might not be as well-known as Google, Bing or Yahoo, but the US based search engine may well be an attractive choice for those web users fed up with the big boys sticking their beaks into private information.
Gabriel Weinberg created the company in 2008, in the basement of his Pennsylvanian home. Having just sold his company NamesDatabase.com for $10 million Weinberg was happily settling down to family life in the quiet suburbs of Paoli. However, life became almost too quiet, hence the conception of DuckDuckGo, described by 34 year old Weinberg as “a hobby”.
Weinberg wanted to create a search engine that did not gather any information or personal data from its users.
DuckDuckGo does not download cookies onto people’s devices, nor does it track computers whereabouts by registering the IP address. The only thing the company knows about its customers, Weinberg claims, is whether they are in Europe, America, or Australasia. “This is distinctly different from other company’s policies,” he adds. “At DuckDuckGo everything relating to the personal identification of the users is literally thrown away.”
This move towards protecting personal anonymity seems to be striking a chord with Internet users, especially since Edward Snowden’s revelations that the personal details of web users were routinely passed onto GCHQ in Britain and the American Government. With fears of big brother spying on our every move through the growing use of technology, the ethos of DuckDuckGo’s privacy controls may start to look very appealing.
In fact, the company’s popularity has quadrupled over the past year, with over 5 million queries passing through the site every day. This amounts to 1% of all searches, worldwide. While this might sound like a drop in a duck pond, when you think that industry giants Microsoft and Yahoo have less than a 6% share of the market, the presence of DuckDuckGo is not such a small thing.
Users have also praised DuckDuckGo’s search results, as it sources its information from enthusiasts rather than presenting general lists, and you will not be bombarded with advertisements slyly tailored to your own interests and search history. A refreshing change or business suicide? Time will tell.