DuckDuckGo Doesn't Track Or Share Your Web Searches

DuckDuckGo is a search engine that protects your privacy. DDG won't track you, log your searches, or turn you over to law enforcement.

We all know that Bing and Google search engines automatically track us, since they have a vested interest in delivering ads. Every time you run a search on Google or Bing, there is search leakage; your search terms and personally identifiable information like your IP address and unique User Agent are stored by the search engines and then passed to the sites you click on after searching. Wouldn't it be nice to use a quality search engine that takes privacy seriously by default? DuckDuckGo (DDG) uses no browser cookies, does not save your search in a personally identifiable way, and does not send your search terms to the sites you click on.

Gabriel Weinberg, the man who started DDG, wants you to understand why you should care about stored search history. "With only the timestamp and computer information, your searches can often be traced directly to you. With the additional account information, they are associated directly with you." You can find out a great deal about a person from their search history. If a search engine logs your history, then it could possibly be released to the public or handed over to law enforcement. Since DDG logs no personal information about you, the "decisions of whether and how to comply with law enforcement requests, whether and how to anonymize data, and how to best protect your information from hackers are out of our hands. Your search history is safe with us because it cannot be tied to you in any way."

According to security software firm Websense, cybercriminals are poisoning search results so that the route to malware can be as short as two clicks away. Trending news, buzz words and the top 1,000 sites are often targeted.

However, when you Duck it, (verb tense like Google it or Bing it) the search results are quality, not spammy pseudo-content, and there are no ads above the results. Most of the crawling done by DDG automated web spiders, called DuckDuckBots, is "conducted solely to keep spam out of the search results," Weinberg told TechnologyReview. Perhaps since DDG has less content farms sites, which are generally linked to malware in some way, users might be safer from malware poisoned results to search with DDG?

Weinberg said that he's worked a lot on making sure DDG search results are not filled with junk links. "First, I have to respect the work of the underlying APIs, e.g. Bing etc. have done," he wrote. "For the 0-click info in particular, I try to use sites that have addressed the spam problem already, e.g. Wikipedia. I show these links on top often, which are of course harder to game because humans police them. On top of that I crawl the Web actively looking for spam sites and have been way more aggressive at removing them than the other engines."

DDG offers encrypted searches with the HTTPS Everywhere Firefox add-on, "which changes the SERPs to point to the encrypted versions of major websites," Weinberg said. DDG also operates a Tor exit enclave, "offering end to end anonymous and encrypted searches." Privacy is very important to Gabriel Weinberg who also co-founded hacker angels, hackers who are also angel investors.

Here is a video with a few Duck Duck Go features:

Weinberg picked the Duck Duck Go name because he liked it; it was derived from Duck Duck Goose but it's not a metaphor. If DuckDuckGo is too long for you, it can be shortened to Can your search engine do this? Weinberg created !Bang, which is one of the coolest DDG features, and the list of queries is long. DuckDuckGo may not hand out cookies, but it does offer users all kinds of goodies like tools, keyboard shortcuts, infinite scrolling, and zero-click info, which is the useful information above the links. Best of all, you can keep your privacy by default!

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