Privacy and Search Engines – Exploring Whether DuckDuckGo Is a Safe Alternative

A man uses a magnifying glass to peer through window blinds, illustrating the lack of online privacy.

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Table of Contents

Heard of a search engine called DuckDuckGo?

There is a lot in the news about online privacy these days, partly because most search engines collect personal information so marketers can better profile and identify you and gather other statistics. People conduct 15 billion searches each month, and these search engines know the search terms, the date, the time and location of your computer, and more.

This captured personal information creates a consumer privacy risk. Privacy groups continue to clamor for search data protection, but browsers continue to use cookies, query analysis, and browser fingerprinting to get as much information as possible. 

Those who value privacy and don’t want to be tracked online might consider the search engine DuckDuckGo. This alternative platform says it offers privacy protection, doesn’t store personal information, has something they call “encryption enforcer,” and includes a tracker blocker. Skeptics awash in attacks on privacy are bound to wonder, though: Is DuckDuckGo safe?

Search Engines and Privacy

Google is a good example because virtually everyone uses the company’s search engine: As of 2021, it has a 92.05% market share. Google, then, doesn’t really “compete” with anyone in the search world. It and other search engines use all those searches to make money. They tell companies what you’re looking for so they can target you with ads. 

Search engines are necessary and bring a lot to the table. They take a lot, as well, when it comes to our personal information, and an even larger specter looms in the form of data security. (Using a browser’s incognito mode helps, but it’s not a complete solution either.)

So what data do search engines collect, and is DuckDuckGo safe as an option for private search? What steps should you take to ensure your data is secure?

What to Know About the Data Collected by Search Engines

Most search engines collect a lot of data. Pretty much every company you interact with online uses tracking technology to data-mine so they can create the personalized experience that’s so crucial to effective online marketing today. Having accurate user data is essential to their profitability. 

This part might be OK with you because it offers you shopping and service options that better align with your interests and that you might not have known about otherwise. Google knows a lot more about you than the fact that you’re looking for a new refrigerator, though, including:

Your Searches

Google and other browsers track all your searches and collect your search history. They also collect information about the images you’ve viewed and the videos you’ve watched.

Which Search Results You Clicked On

Google knows which results you clicked on, and it uses this information in its search rankings, which are based on how many people clicked on a search result. More clicks mean a higher rank and a better place in search results.

Your Search Patterns

Your search pattern is how you search, including the types of words you use, your phrasing, and whether you use complete words, sentences, or fragments.

Which Ads You’re Interested In

If you clicked on that ad for the latest model car, Google knows it, and you can expect to see more ads like it in the future because of this collected data.

Google is a focus of civil rights advocates because of its practices and its cozy relationship with some government agencies. A search engine having all this information creeps many people out; if you’re in that group, it’s time to check out DuckDuckGo and its privacy claims, as well as just how true they are.

Ducks talking through tin cans

DuckDuckGo – A Possible Solution to Search Engine Privacy Concerns

You will still see ads on DuckDuckGo, but just because you searched for a new car doesn’t mean you’ll see more car ads the next time you search. DuckDuckGo doesn’t record your search queries, doesn’t link them to ads, and doesn’t share your information with their advertisers. This means you aren’t followed around by endless ads for the same thing as you surf the web.

DuckDuckGo estimated their traffic at 80 million users and growing in November 2020, and many of them are people who value their privacy. The upstart, founded in 2008, has built its reputation on privacy, but just what does that mean? This search engine protects your privacy through:

1. No Search Leakage

Search leakage means that when you click on a search result, the site sends your IP address, browser info, and search terms to that website so they can learn more about you. Users who visit DuckDuckGo and click on a link are sent to that website in a way that keeps the site from knowing what search term you used. 

2. Your Search History Is Private

DuckDuckGo does not record your activities or share them with third parties. If law enforcement or a government agency wants information about you, they comply by not sharing anything because they don’t have your data to share. 

3. Default Encryption

DuckDuckGo users who try to go to an unencrypted site that supports encryption will see their connection default to the encrypted version seamlessly. 

DuckDuckGo might be a significant step forward in privacy, then, but it is not the be-all and end-all when it comes to either your search or data privacy. DuckDuckGo earns revenue by making commissions on products sold when someone clicks on an ad or finds a product via a search. It is the current gold standard when it comes to search engine privacy, though. It is one tool that can help you browse the web and further preserve your privacy and data security.

Keeping Secure and Private in an Online World

Websites get hacked every day, and malware has reached the point where it can attack your computer if you are unfortunate enough to visit the wrong website. The online world feels increasingly dangerous, with a loss of privacy having implications such as:

  • This means some unscrupulous person or organization will have access to all your data and invade your privacy.
  • Access to all your data means all the things you’d rather forget are visible, like that 20-year-old photo of you after a night of hard partying. 
  • Just throwing things in the computer trash bin and then emptying it doesn’t work; there’s lots of software out there to recover deleted files, so look for a permanent solution.

Computer users are increasingly looking to avoid unwanted intrusions on their privacy, and DuckDuckGo appears to be a good step in the right direction. it’s vital to protect yourselves from every cyber threat you can, though, which includes information gathering and hacking threats. The most effective approach to overall computer security will involve an array of tools designed to keep info out of nefarious hands.

Contact the Experts in Personal Data Privacy

Computer privacy comes down to sharing only what you want to share, and that means keeping your private files from ever reaching a wider audience. The Shred Cube is a powerful tool for destroying data on your computer by safely and permanently deleting unwanted documents or files. 

With simple features such as drag-and-drop, file attachment, duplicate file finder, and more, privacy is now just a click away. Get in touch with Shred Cube today for info about the first and only USB-based file shredder. 

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