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How the founder of DuckDuckGo created the ultimate privacy-oriented search engine

How the founder of DuckDuckGo created the ultimate privacy-oriented search engine
[Illustration: Artur Tenczyński]


Gabriel Weinberg‘s privacy-focused search engine doesn’t track users or log their search histories. What it does is offer peace of mind. Weinberg created it 11 years ago after hearing, as an angel investor, pitch after pitch from ad-tech startups about how they could slice, dice, and target groups of users using deeply personal data. “I thought, This is shady, and it’s only going to get crazier,” he says. Today, his engine has a small but devoted following: After growing 50% year over year, it reached 30 million searches a day in 2018, and is poised to grow even faster since Google added DuckDuckGo as a default search-engine option in its latest Chrome browser in more than 60 markets this past March. DuckDuckGo has also introduced a browser extension for Firefox and Chrome as well as mobile apps for iOS and Android devices that mask users’ search histories, block web trackers, and route browser traffic through encrypted connections whenever possible, allowing users to reduce their digital footprint in ways “that don’t involve much of a sacrifice,” Weinberg says. Since launching a little more than a year ago, the apps and browser extensions have been installed more than 10 million times.

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