Internet users are taking a fresh look at "privacy” search engines that do not store data or track online activity, in light of the flap over US government surveillance.
While Google’s market share has not seen a noticeable dent, privacy search engines like US-based DuckDuckGo and European-based Ixquick have seen jumps in traffic from users seeking to limit their online tracks.
"I think people are seeking out privacy alternatives,” said Gabriel Weinberg, founder of DuckDuckGo, an engine created in 2007, which does not store IP addresses or create profiles of users.
The stored data has become a concern following revelations of a massive surveillance program run by the secretive National Security Agency, with access to data from Google, Yahoo! and other Internet firms.
US officials say the information gathered is vital in the fight against global terrorism.
The same data and profiles can be used by the search engine to deliver ads and sold to outside marketers as well.
"What people type in their search engines is their most personal things,” Weinberg said. "It’s a little creepy that a search engine can know so much about you.”
DuckDuckGo had been growing slowly in recent years, but its traffic charts showed a surge after the first news broke June 6 of the government’s PRISM surveillance program. By June 20, traffic had hit nearly three million queries, double the level of a year earlier.