DuckDuckGo: Public Reaction to PRISM

Our apologies for the hiatus before this promised post on public response to PRISM.

Duck Duck Go

The public backlash against PRISM has been substantial.  Everyone seems to have something to say and nothing seems to be positive.  Responses range from protests to outright ridicule of the program.  One response to the idea that your searches may be monitored has been a migration away from common search engines.

Enter DuckDuckGo.  This independent search engine has existed since 2008, and was designed to give searchers a quality experience with less clutter.  Gabriel Weinberg, founder of DuckDuckGo says that, when you’re searching, “Oftentimes you want answers, not links.”

The big draw of this search engine lately, though, is in its tagline: Search Anonymously.

That’s right, DuckDuckGo is designed to not store your searches at all.  Without a way to store, it can’t collect data and therefore can’t track your online usage or have that information stolen.

searches on anonymous engine duckduckgo

The pertinent part of the graph is at the second spike, around the time PRISM was revealed. The first, as noted on the traffic page, followed Google’s announcement in January 2012 to share information across their various sites.

Last month, shortly after the announcement of PRISM, DuckDuckGo found its queries per day skyrocketing.  Within a few days of June 6th, the day of the Washington Post and The Guardian articles about PRISM, their search count had rocketed past 2 million, up almost half a million from their previous averages.  At present, that number is still increasing rapidly.

While 2 million searches is still relatively a “drop in the bucket” compared to the number of people searching on other sites, the fact that this relatively unknown search engine received such a large boost in response to the news about PRISM is a clear indicator that people want the government, as well as search engines, oftentimes, to respect their privacy and let them surf the web unhindered.  After all, the case of DuckDuckGo’s dramatic search increase is not the only thing that has happened or changed since June 6th.  Trends like these are indicative of greater public unrest.

We’ll have more on PRISM for you shortly.

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