The fallout from state-sponsored snooping scandal, Prism, goes on and on. So far I have collected 23 pages of notes on the subject and I still don’t feel it’s the right time to write up my thoughts on it – but rest assured a write-up is in the pipeline. In the mean time though, this review offers a quick fix for keeping your search history private. DuckDuckGo has been around since 2008, pitching itself from the start against the Internet powerhouse that is Google, but offering a completely anonymous search facility where users history is not logged and saved, thereby assuring their privacy. The search engine pulls information from crowd-sourced websites like Wikipedia and because users are not profiled to filter preferences everyone searching for the same keyword or term will be delivered the same results, making a refreshingly democratic service. On the downside though the results are not always as comprehensive as those offered by Google (somewhat ironically when searching for a link to the iTunes app page for DuckDuckGo I had to resort to Google to locate it!), so you might have to dip into the mainstream occasionally.
From humble beginnings the service has seen a huge growth spurt in the wake of Prism and according to the website’s Twitter account, on Monday June 17, 2013, it had three million daily direct searches (and that Twitter account is definitely one to follow if you want to keep up to date with online privacy news). To put this into context Google handles around 1.5 billion searches a day, so it is still pretty small fry in search engine terms. But with iPhone and now Android apps that also serve as a curated news feed from independent sources you can tailor to your own taste, overall this is an excellent service that deserves a lot of praise for the principles of freedom and privacy they stand for (and dare I say it, I am willing to bet they pay a fair amount of corporation tax too!), so I for one have now replaced my ‘Google’ menu bar button for one that features a duck.