Little Guy Who Believes in Privacy Takes on the Giants

DuckDuckGo is a search engine that doesn't track its users and doesn't store data; that seems to be what people want.

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Gabriel Weinberg, CEO of DuckDuckGo.Credit: DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo bills itself as "the search engine that doesn't track you." And, with one billion queries answered in 2013, it seems like owner Gabriel Goldberg is onto something.

Named after the playground game "duck duck goose," the site is not just banking on the support of people paranoid about National Security Agency snooping. Weinberg argues that privacy makes the web search better, not worse.

Since it doesn't store your previous searches, it does not and cannot present personalized search results. That frees users from the filter bubble – the fear that, as search results are increasingly personalized, they are less likely to be presented with information that challenges their existing ideas.

It also means that DuckDuckGo is forced to keep its focus purely on search. With no stores or data to tap, it cannot become an advertising behemoth, it has no motivation to start trying to build a social network and it doesn't get anything out of scanning your emails to create a personal profile.

The use of DuckDuckGo is soaring, with searches up from 10 million a month in October 2011 to 45 million this past October. The growth has attracted attention and cash from Union Square Ventures, the venture capital firm behind Twitter.

Not long ago, a headline in the search industry bible SearchEngineLand. com asked, Could DuckDuckGo Be The Biggest Long-Term Threat To Google?