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

Commentary: The privacy-oriented search engine retains successful followers. Will it spur Google to enhance its personal privateness?


Picture: Ascannio/Shutterstock

It is unclear how many individuals deeply care about their on-line knowledge. In any case, Fb (hardly a paragon of defending privateness) boasts 2.89 billion day by day energetic customers. And Fb is not alone on this. It simply occurs to be above common within the scale and scope of the way it leverages private knowledge to promote advertisements/drive engagement. 

And but … DuckDuckGo. The privacy-oriented search engine netted greater than 35 billion search queries in 2021, a 46.4% soar over 2020 (23.6 billion). That is large. Even so, the corporate, which payments itself because the “Web privateness firm,” providing a search engine and different merchandise designed to “empower you to seamlessly take management of your private data on-line with none tradeoffs,” stays a rounding error in comparison with Google in search. 

Whether or not it stays a extremely profitable (and worthwhile) rounding error, nonetheless, might rely upon how critical we turn into concerning the privateness of our searches.

“I’ve nothing to cover”

Take me, for instance. I am fairly boring. Although I have been identified to scour the darkish aspect of the net to unearth inconceivable Arsenal switch rumors (we’re getting Mbappe!), there’s actually nothing that I do on-line, or that I seek for, that I would thoughts anybody else seeing. No porn. No unlawful downloading of flicks or music (although I admit I as soon as dabbled whereas ready for the suitable to pay to stream …). Tremendous staid.

Which isn’t to say I would not favor anonymity. 

SEE: Report: SMBs are unprepared to sort out knowledge privateness (TechRepublic Premium)

I, such as you, seek for issues on a regular basis that are not me. I could need to know, for instance, the survival charges of a sure type of most cancers, however that is as a result of a pal has it. It isn’t a subject that I need advertisements about. My spouse will generally point out an actor, and I virtually by no means know who they’re. So I look them up. However I’ve a few nanosecond’s price of curiosity within the matter. I do not need that happening my “everlasting file,” because it have been. And so forth. A lot of what I, and also you, seek for is simply random ephemera. 

However Google builds a file utilizing these searches (and different on-line actions, together with e mail), all within the title of serving up “related advertisements.” That concept of “relevance” is nonsense, as DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg has argued: “Virtually all the cash serps make (together with Google) relies on the key phrases you kind in, with out figuring out something about you, together with your search historical past or the seemingly countless quantities of extra knowledge factors they’ve collected about registered and non-registered customers alike.” 

Our private knowledge will not be really price a lot … to others. “Your own data is worthless—it solely has worth within the mixture of tens of millions,” analyst Benedict Evans mentioned. Nonetheless, whereas it is not price a lot to others, it is worthwhile to me to maintain issues personal. 

DuckDuckGo’s rising success means that loads of folks agree and are literally doing one thing about it.

Not paying for privateness

A latest Washington Publish-Schar College examine discovered that almost all Individuals (73%) suppose tech firms gathering personal person knowledge for promoting is “unjustified.” Greater than half (57%) are doing greater than grumbling: They’re taking motion like altering privateness settings on web sites or their cellphone apps. 

And a few are utilizing DuckDuckGo.

SEE: The way to handle passwords: Finest practices and safety suggestions (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

That “some” amounted to a day by day common of 100 million search queries every day in 2021. That is up from a median of 79 million per day in 2020. A latest DuckDuckGo survey discovered that 27 million Individuals (9%) use DuckDuckGo. That is spectacular. 

The corporate is now pushing effectively past search (even whereas bettering primary search with revamped search outcomes, amongst different issues) to allow issues like e mail safety (“free e mail forwarding service that removes trackers in your e mail and protects the privateness of your private e mail handle”), app monitoring safety (“a brand new characteristic in our Android app that blocks third-party trackers like Google and Fb lurking in different apps”), and extra. 

Due to this rising repute for shielding privateness, DuckDuckGo is now probably the most downloaded looking app on Android in its main markets just like the U.S., and second solely to Chrome on iOS. Apparently folks do care about privateness. It is nonetheless too quickly to name this a development, but DuckDuckGo’s success suggests one thing substantial is occurring. No, it is not going to unseat Google anytime quickly. Perhaps, like Firefox earlier than it, DuckDuckGo will merely spur Google to enhance Chrome (or, on this case, enhance the privateness options of Google Search). Time will inform, but when 2022 is something like 2021, DuckDuckGo’s success might immediate motion from Google sooner slightly than later.

Disclosure: I work for MongoDB however the views expressed herein are mine

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