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Why privacy fears are driving people to DuckDuckGo

Posting in Government

The U.S. government's covert national security electronic surveillance program, known as PRISM, has heightened the public's very appropriate concerns over privacy. And that has folks flocking to private search engine DuckDuckGo.

The search engine, which vows not to track its users, has experienced record traffic in the past week as the news story revealing the existence of the PRISM program continues to unfold.

The site's traffic jumped 28 percent from 1,835,599 direct searches on June 6 when the story broke to 2,350,762 on Wednesday (hat tip VentureBeat).

DuckDuckGo is a search engine like Google. But unlike Google, the company doesn't track users. Which means, DuckDuckGo doesn't know who its users are and the site doesn't tie their searches together. The company also vows to not put users in a filter bubble.

Gabriel Weinberg (pictured) founded DuckDuckGo in 2008 in an effort to create a better search experience. Meaning, less spam, less intrusive advertising and better instant answers.

The company backed into the issue of privacy after Weinberg was asked about it and thought it was "a little creepy that a search engine could know so much about you and also didn't want to hand over information to governments," Weinberg told Bloomberg in a June 10 interview.

More from DuckDuckGo on its policy:

When you access DuckDuckGo (or any Web site), your Web browser automatically sends information about your computer, e.g. your User agent and IP address.

Because this information could be used to link you to your searches, we do not log (store) it at all. This is a very unusual practice, but we feel it is an important step to protect your privacy.

Photo: DuckDuckGo

— By on June 14, 2013, 4:07 AM PST

Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure