Concerned about online privacy? Well – one way to preserve your digital privacy is to use a non-tracking search engine. Enter DuckDuckGo.
This is a platform that is potentially the most essential item in your privacy toolkit. Our DuckDuckGo privacy review will identify several key reasons why you should abandon the alternatives – especially if you’d like to keep your browsing history out of the reach of exploitative corporations. Read on to find out more.
According to a recent survey in the UK, millions of people report feeling concerned about their digital data privacy. In fact, 78% of individuals don’t feel in control of their personal data online, while 40% worry about how companies are using their personal data.
As the most visited website in the world, Google is an integral part of most users’ web experience. However, the tech giant often comes under the scanner for failing to protect its users’ privacy. If you’re worried about what Google knows about you, it might be time to look for an alternative.
When it comes to browsing the web, it’s pretty much a given that everything you do is being tracked. Which is why DuckDuckGo, a non-tracking search engine, has emerged as a formidable rival to Google, particularly for those users who consider privacy an essential criterion when choosing their search engine.
DuckDuckGo (DDG), founded in 2008, is an internet search engine deeply invested in protecting its users’ privacy. As a non-tracking search engine, DDG’s extension blocks other companies’ trackers. DDG also helps with avoiding the manipulative filter bubble and enables faster internet browsing as all the excess tracking code is eliminated.
A typical search engine’s revenue model involves using your data to provide personalised search results depending on your profile – location, past search history, and socio-economic factors. Unfortunately, this creates a “filter bubble,” or echo-chamber effect that shows you results that reinforce your opinions and ideology, essentially separating you from any alternative perspectives. This singularity in thought is dangerous as you continue to get increasingly polarised.
Such polarisation has far-reaching consequences, from global politics to our everyday opinions. So, we must start to question this technology-led manipulation and take our privacy concerns seriously. Tools like DDG, which put privacy at the forefront of technology, are practical tools that mitigate the impact of the surveillance-tech framework we find ourselves in.
DDG is a relatively safe search engine and you can use it without compromising your security. While they cannot release an exact number of users, since it’s a non-tracking search engine, they estimate the platform is used by over 80 million people across the globe.
On January 11, 2021, DDG set a new company record with 102,251,307 search requests in one day. The total number of searches showed a 62% year-over-year increase, demonstrating the mainstream use of search engines that prioritise privacy.
Kamyl Bazbaz, vice president of communications at DuckDuckGo, noted that “People are coming to us because they want more privacy, and it’s generally spreading through word of mouth. People are looking for alternatives to the surveillance-tech business model.”
Ever since the US National Security Agency (NSA) revelations in 2013, privacy concerns on the internet have taken centre stage in public discourse. The NSA tracked vast amounts of data from internet search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, and other American companies. While the NSA justified this as a technique to protect the US from terrorists, the ethics of this activity have been debated repeatedly. Other concerns include using this tracked data for political campaigns and unfair political gains.
The privacy discourse has quickly moved from the realm of global governments to the private sector. The EU has adopted the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and it’s likely that more governments worldwide look to adopt privacy laws.
The private sector has no justifications for using personal data for noble purposes. Hence, consumers have started to question the tracking of personal data for private gains. Google extensively tracks your search history, and its trackers have been found on 75% of the top million websites. This implies it tracks you almost everywhere on the internet unless you use platforms such as DDG to stop them.
On average, Google Chrome tracks 63.5% of private data, Mozilla Firefox tracks 3.5%, and DDG tracks around 1% allowing you to search and browse privately. France and Austria have banned Google Analytics, as it exposes restricted data to US agencies. Moreover, Texas has sued Facebook for billions of dollars for collecting facial recognition data from your phone. These instances illustrate the extent to which private data tracking affects our daily lives and highlights the need to take these concerns seriously.
Since DuckDuckGo doesn’t collect data about your search or browsing history in the first place, you won’t have to worry about any of your personal identifying information becoming compromised because DuckDuckGo doesn’t store its user’s data – which means breaches are an impossibility.
Traditional search engines keep track of the time and date of your searches. Not only this but they also store your search history, and even the credentials that you use when logging in to websites that require passwords and other forms of user identification. When compared with DuckDuckGo, it becomes overtly apparent that your most intimate and sensitive data is at risk and susceptible to exposure, when using search engines like Google.
Accidental leaks and security breaches can easily see to it that your personal information ends up in the hands of some of the world’s most nefarious, online criminal groups. However – with DuckDuckGo, this isn’t the case.
DDG prevents search leakage, which is when your search terms are sent to the sites that you click on when using platforms like Google. DDG prevents this by default – so when you click on a link using their platform, your traffic is routed in a way that prevents the websites that you visit from tracking your searches.
Your searches are completely anonymous when using either the online search engine or the DuckDuckGo browser. This means no one can track your activity to detect the sites you visit, how much time you spend on each site and where you’re accessing the site from.
Your data can still be tracked while using this feature. Incognito mode doesn’t enhance privacy. It merely deletes information from your computer but does nothing to stop Google or other companies, including your internet provider, from saving your searches or tracking your data.
In 2021, Google was sued in a proposed class action suit that accused the organisation of tracking the online activity internet use of millions of users through browsers set in incognito mode.
Conversely, DDG search is entirely anonymous, and you can stay private while browsing search results by using their app and extension.
When using the app, you will find that DuckDuckGo privacy is further enhanced via a feature called Smarter Encryption – a tool that determines if a website can be upgraded to an encrypted version, without disrupting your browsing experience.
With ad clicks managed by Microsoft’s advertising network, DDG generates its revenue through advertising and affiliate programs with companies like eBay and Amazon. Since they don’t collect confidential information, the ads that you see on DDG aren’t based on your private data, they are based on the search results page you are viewing.
The most prominent search engines in the Western market are Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and DDG. Except for Google, all of them are managed by Microsoft Advertisements. Therefore, if you want to expand into the western markets, relying solely on Google will not be enough. DDG has access to a sophisticated user base that further improves the return on your advertising. Most of the user base consists of middle-aged people who use DDG due to major concerns over online privacy. Additionally, many of these users are loyal, i.e., they use DDG as their exclusive search engine. Moreover, the users are educated, in the medium to a high-income group, making them high-intent customers when it comes to buying decisions. Therefore, if you want to reach already primed, high-intent, and high-income users, DDG is the right platform for you.
Lastly, Microsoft Advertisements provide added benefits for your ads. Unlike Google Ads, Microsoft offers higher transparency – it discloses partners and gives performance reports by domain (Google Ads gives aggregated performance reports). Partners are vetted on Microsoft, whereas any website can apply on Google Ads.
Further, you can use tools to check which websites work for you on Microsoft Ads and exclude sites that do not work well. While managing the Microsoft Partner Network might be more time-consuming, it can be beneficial if done right.
You can access the DDG search engine by visiting DuckDuckGo.com. In addition to its private search engine, DuckDuckGo offers a privacy browser app for iOS and Android, as well as a Chrome extension.
How do I make DuckDuckGo my default engine in Chrome?
To set DuckDuckGo as your default search engine in Chrome, go to Preferences > Search, and then select DuckDuckGo from the dropdown menu. If you don’t see it, click Manage Search Engines and select it from the list to make anonymous searches right from your browser.
To learn more, watch Nate, our CEO, speak about DuckDuckGo privacy, and the future of search.