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‘Anonymous’ search engine sees rocketing growth after NSA revelations

Published time: June 19, 2013 19:07
Edited time: June 25, 2013 11:22
Screenshot from DuckDuckGo.com

Screenshot from DuckDuckGo.com

An alternative search engine DuckDuckGo has enjoyed a record surge in traffic as NSA scandals spark fears and frighten away Internet users from the more popular Google or Yahoo!.

Over the previous week DuckDuckGo, a private search engine, which claims not to collect users' searches or create any personal user profile, has increased its traffic by 26 per cent and passed 3.1 million of direct queries.

A traffic surge hit DuckDuckGo after Edward Snowden’s revelations that NSA obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo and other US technology companies. The scandal over the US’s PRISM program played into the website’s hands, before that direct searches were around 1.6 million a day for the last few months.

However, despite impressive results, DuckDuckGo still cannot challenge internet search industry giants. For comparison, Google handles 5,134 million searches a day.

"We always knew people didn't want to be tracked,”
said DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg, who launched the alternative search engine in 2008, quoted by CNBC. “But what hadn't happened was reporting on the private alternatives and so it's no surprise that people are making a choice to switch to things that that will give them great results and also have real privacy."

The company pledges not to track users as a search is a unique browser event, unlike on Google or Yahoo! which aggregate the data users are looking for and create the so-called “filter bubble”, to push advertising within search results.  

Despite DuckDuckGo claims the search is anonymous, it could still be tracked, but infiltrators would not be able to get users’ full profiles.

However, the company said “like anyone else” it “will comply with court ordered legal requests”, adding that they “don’t expect any” because “there is nothing useful to give them.”

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