Online privacy: DuckDuckGo just finished a banner year and looks for an even better 2022

2 years ago 485

Commentary: The privacy-oriented hunt motor keeps winning fans. Will it spur Google to amended its ain privacy?


Image: Ascannio/Shutterstock

It's unclear however galore radical profoundly attraction astir their online data. After all, Facebook (hardly a paragon of protecting privacy) boasts 2.89 cardinal regular progressive users. And Facebook isn't unsocial successful this. It conscionable happens to beryllium supra mean successful the standard and scope of however it leverages idiosyncratic information to merchantability ads/drive engagement. 

And yet … DuckDuckGo. The privacy-oriented hunt motor netted more than 35 cardinal hunt queries successful 2021, a 46.4% leap implicit 2020 (23.6 billion). That's big. Even so, the company, which bills itself arsenic the "Internet privateness company," offering a hunt motor and different products designed to "empower you to seamlessly instrumentality power of your idiosyncratic accusation online without immoderate tradeoffs," remains a rounding mistake compared to Google successful search. 

Whether it remains a highly palmy (and profitable) rounding error, however, could beryllium connected however superior we go astir the privateness of our searches.

"I person thing to hide"

Take me, for example. I'm beauteous boring. Though I've been known to scour the acheronian broadside of the web to unearth improbable Arsenal transportation rumors (we're getting Mbappe!), there's truly thing that I bash online, oregon that I hunt for, that I'd caput anyone other seeing. No porn. No amerciable downloading of movies oregon euphony (though I admit I erstwhile dabbled portion waiting for the close to wage to watercourse …). Super staid.

Which is not to accidental I wouldn't similar anonymity. 

SEE: Report: SMBs are unprepared to tackle information privacy (TechRepublic Premium)

I, similar you, hunt for things each the clip that aren't me. I whitethorn privation to know, for example, the endurance rates of a definite benignant of cancer, but that's due to the fact that a person has it. It's not a taxable that I privation ads about. My woman volition sometimes notation an actor, and I astir ne'er cognize who they are. So I look them up. But I person astir a nanosecond's worthy of involvement successful the topic. I don't privation that going connected my "permanent record," arsenic it were. And truthful on. Much of what I, and you, hunt for is conscionable random ephemera. 

But Google builds a dossier utilizing those searches (and different online activities, including email), each successful the sanction of serving up "relevant ads." That thought of "relevance" is nonsense, arsenic DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg has argued: "Almost each of the wealth hunt engines marque (including Google) is based connected the keywords you benignant in, without knowing thing astir you, including your hunt past oregon the seemingly endless amounts of further information points they person collected astir registered and non-registered users alike." 

Our idiosyncratic information is not really worthy overmuch … to others. "Your ain information is worthless—it lone has worth successful the aggregate of millions," expert Benedict Evans said. Still, portion it's not worthy overmuch to others, it's worthwhile to me to support things private. 

DuckDuckGo's rising occurrence suggests that plentifulness of radical hold and are really doing thing astir it.

Not paying for privacy

A caller Washington Post-Schar School study recovered that astir Americans (73%) deliberation tech companies collecting backstage idiosyncratic information for advertizing is "unjustified." More than fractional (57%) are doing much than grumbling: They're taking enactment similar changing privateness settings connected websites oregon their telephone apps. 

And immoderate are utilizing DuckDuckGo.

SEE: How to negociate passwords: Best practices and information tips (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

That "some" amounted to a regular mean of 100 cardinal hunt queries each time successful 2021. That's up from an mean of 79 cardinal per time successful 2020. A caller DuckDuckGo survey recovered that 27 cardinal Americans (9%) usage DuckDuckGo. That's impressive. 

The institution is present pushing good beyond search (even portion improving basal hunt with revamped hunt results, among different things) to alteration things similar email protection ("free email forwarding work that removes trackers successful your email and protects the privateness of your idiosyncratic email address"), app tracking protection ("a caller diagnostic successful our Android app that blocks third-party trackers similar Google and Facebook lurking successful different apps"), and more. 

Because of this increasing estimation for protecting privacy, DuckDuckGo is present the astir downloaded browsing app connected Android successful its large markets similar the U.S., and 2nd lone to Chrome connected iOS. Apparently radical bash attraction astir privacy. It's inactive excessively soon to telephone this a trend, yet DuckDuckGo's occurrence suggests thing important is happening. No, it's not going to unseat Google anytime soon. Maybe, similar Firefox earlier it, DuckDuckGo volition simply spur Google to amended Chrome (or, successful this case, amended the privateness features of Google Search). Time volition tell, but if 2022 is thing similar 2021, DuckDuckGo's occurrence whitethorn punctual enactment from Google sooner alternatively than later.

Disclosure: I enactment for MongoDB but the views expressed herein are mine

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