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Privacy is Key Feature of Free Search Engines

If you haven’t tried a new search engine in awhile, you might want to look into a couple that are beginning to catch on with searchers concerned with privacy as well as reliable results. DuckDuckGo (DDG) is making a splash in the press as well as among those who follow tech trends. Recently featured in a lengthy Washington Post article, DuckDuckGo, named after the children’s game Duck, Duck Goose, has seen dramatic traffic according to .

Wikipedia describes DuckDuckGo as a “hybrid” search engine that “uses information from crowdsourced websites such as Wikipedia to augment traditional results and improve relevance. The search engine policy emphasizes privacy and does not record user information. Because users are not profiled, the ‘filter bubble’ can be avoided, with all users being shown the same search results for a given search term.” Other sources used by DDG include Yahoo! Search Boss, Wolfram Alpha and its own web crawler, the DuckDuckBot. But its privacy policy is the real draw. According to its founder, Gabriel Weinberg, “By default, DuckDuckGo does not collect or share personal information. That is our privacy policy in a nutshell.” It does not store IP addresses, does not log user information and uses cookies only when needed.

Another search engine promoting user privacy is Startpage aims to provide Google-powered results anonymously, via a proxy. Introduced on January 28, 2010, International Data Privacy Day, Startpage describes itself as a “free, innovative proxy service that allows users to surf the web with complete privacy. The proxy lets users browse websites safely and anonymously, without passing on any private, personally identifiable information to the websites they view.” The proxy feature works along with the Startpage search engine.

When users perform a search, they will find a clickable “proxy” option below each search result. When this option is selected, Startpage acts as an intermediary to retrieve the page and display it in a privacy-protected Startpage window.…The proxy offers complete anonymity, since the user never makes direct contact with the third-party website. The user’s IP address is invisible to the viewed website. In addition, the website cannot see or place cookies on the user’s browser.