With the NSA and Edward Snowden making headlines around the world, it’s enough to make any user of the Internet think twice about online security and wonder if they are being monitored or not. Google Search has been a popular hub for third party monitoring, which makes Internet users ask, “Is there a more secure search engine available?” There is with DuckDuckGo.Launched in September of 2008, DuckDuckGo not only aimed to protect the privacy of those using its search engine, but also sought to give all users the same results, avoiding personalized search results. Hiring their first employee about three years later, it certainly took a while for the search company to get off the ground. By May of 2012 they were responsible for about 1.5 million search queries each day. Even though this is virtually chump change compared to global search giant Google, Google actually named them as a competitor in 2012 when it was accused of being a monopoly.
Perhaps nothing has done more to improve the site’s traffic than the revelation of the NSA’s PRISM program. Once this information hit the public and people began to become aware that virtually all of their digital communications were being tracked, traced, and data-based, DuckDuckGo’s traffic began to increase at an impressive rate. By November 2013, more than 4 million people were using the site daily, and on January 7th 2014, they had achieved their single best day of traffic at 4,452,957 queries in a 24 hour period. Again, it must be noted that these numbers are relatively small in Google terms, as they haven’t seen similar numbers since 1999. However, some people in the tech industry see the potential for DuckDuckGo and similar offerings to gain traction and challenge the search leviathan.
This is no small task. Google brags that it’s responsible for over 1 trillion (yes trillion) searches each year! Perhaps that is what’s great about DuckDuckGo; they aren’t trying to espouse such numbers, or even compete with Google. They seem to be much happier going about their business and offering an alternative to those who want privacy when it comes to their search engine. DuckDuckGo’s founder, Albert Wenger, is confident in stating that “Google’s dominance will lessen.” He simply sees more and more people coming to his site because of its security in a time when privacy seems like a novel idea from our past.