Every now and then someone comes along with a bold idea, a way to make something good even better, a new take on an established idea. Intego was lucky enough to sit down with Gabriel Weinberg recently, an innovative entrepreneur who has built DuckDuckGo, a search engine that rethinks the age-old adage that advances in technology must involve an “inevitable” tradeoff with privacy.
When Apple first released iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, privacy enthusiasts were thrilled as it added the option to choose DuckDuckGo as Safari's default search engine. Yet even with the amount of exposure that DuckDuckGo has already had, there are still a large number of Mac OS X, iPhone and iPad users who are unfamiliar with the search engine.
Today we will share with you Gabriel's inspiring vision.
A New Take on Search Technology and Privacy
Here at Intego we are passionate about helping parents protect their children online, which is why we are raising awareness of the advantages of choosing DuckDuckGo as a search engine for your family. We want parents to know that DuckDuckGo is a search engine that may be safer for kids.
Whereas Google and other search engines track searches and collect user information to build profiles and supply data to third parties, DuckDuckGo enables users to browse the web without this integrated data tracking—a pillar of online privacy.
We sat down with Gabriel Weinberg, founder and CEO of DuckDuckGo, to learn more about the search engine and how it can help families maintain their privacy online.
“DuckDuckGo is a search engine like Google except that we don’t track you. What that means is that when you search on DuckDuckGo you are completely anonymous,” Gabriel told Intego. “In addition we focus on smarter answers, less ads and less clutter. The vision is simple: Superior search experience and great privacy at the same time.”
Online anonymity is important for children using the Internet, but traditional search engines collect a lot of information—physical location, the machine’s unique Internet Protocol (IP) address, and what has been searched. Do you or your kids use Gmail and YouTube, too? Google slurps up personal information from all of its platforms to create a detailed, personal profile of its users. Over time, this adds up to vast amounts of data, mainly to the benefit of Internet advertisers and data brokers.
DuckDuckGo is different. Gabriel believes he has created a way to present search results in a better, more reliable way—all without intruding on your privacy. We’ve heard the saying: technology-driven conveniences can only happen if we compromise privacy. Well, Gabriel clearly has other ideas.
DuckDuckGo doesn’t store search histories or record any data that could be used to identify your computers. It also features helpful tutorials about what happens when you run a search on traditional search engines and a bunch of kid-friendly goodies for finding information quickly. And it’s not just for kids—parents can use it too via the website (duckduckgo.com) or a browser extension.
Intego's Interview with Gabriel Weinberg
We began by asking Gabriel what makes DuckDuckGo a kid-safe search engine.
Intego: Let’s start with something simple. What's the difference between DuckDuckGo's Safe Search and its regular search?
Safe search removes explicit content from results and is enabled by default.
Intego: Parents are very concerned these days about their children's online privacy. Why should parents care about what search engine their kids are using?
Most search engines collect as much personal information as they can to build profiles of their users, which can then be used to better target advertising at them across the Internet. Have you noticed the ads that follow you and your kids around the Internet? That's the direct result of this collection. If you want less information out there about your kids, use sites like DuckDuckGo that don't track you.
Intego: What other safety measures are you putting in place specifically around younger users?
We have safe search turned on by default and we do not collect or share personal information. These apply to all users of DuckDuckGo, including kids. Outside of safety, kids love our branding, especially Dax the duck!
Intego: In addition to being a successful entrepreneur, you’re also the father of two kids. Tell us a little about what kid-friendly technology you use on a daily basis.
For context, my kids are currently aged three and five. I believe that different technology mediums (TV, iPad, etc.) each have something unique and useful to offer our kids and I actively seek that out. I think it has really made a big difference. For example, both of my kids were reading when they were two. I think that is in large part to playing phonics videos in the car and using good iPad reading apps. The videos we used are made by Pre School Prep and Rock n' Learn.
Now I try to focus on things they're not going to be learning elsewhere, and use technology to help with that. Here are a few examples from the last few months. I set up a website for my oldest and have been showing him how to program it (just very basic HTML, but he can get the idea of how it works). We've also been doing simple math sequence problems and I've been showing him how to graph them on Excel. He's also interested in making movies and there are a lot of great apps for that on the iPad that he's been trying out.
Fascinating stuff, Gabriel!
To wrap things up, we want to thank Gabriel for taking the time to answer our questions about DuckDuckGo. If he’s piqued your interest in the search engine, you can head over to DuckDuckGo.com and change your default search engine today!
Before you go on your merry way, we want our readers to be aware that—in addition to search engines—there are many steps in the process of online tracking. And there's more you can do to boost your Internet security and privacy.
DuckDuckGo will not track you when using its search engine, and the search tool provides encryption to help with that, but there are still many locations where everything you type could be easily stored. Your data can be stored on your local computer, and when surfing the web you're going through your Internet Service Provider (ISP)—the company that provides access to the Internet. Then you have the search engine, and that's what DuckDuckGo controls, and after that, the final website.
As well as switching search engines and perhaps using a different email provider, you can add more layers of security with EFF's HTTPS Everywhere plug-in for your browser, which encrypts website connections where possible, and add EFF's Privacy Badger plug-in, which blocks third-party trackers. Finally, it is crucial to consider a multi-layered approach to Internet security with solutions like Intego’s award-winning Mac Internet Security software, which can protect your data where a web browser and a search engine cannot.