BRITISH STARTUP Oscobo has launched a search engine aimed at UK users with an eye for privacy.
Oscobo collects no personal data, keeps no IP addresses, leaves no cookies, and offers nothing but pure unfettered search results with no bias and no axe to grind.
The search engine is the result of the experiences of co-founders Fred Cornell and Rob Perin, whose experience in data collection at Yahoo and BlackBerry respectively made them look for a better way of searching.
"I became horrified at how much information and profiling takes place in conventional search engines," Cornell told The INQUIRER. "People don't realise just how much a search engine knows about you from your search history and quite often don't understand the repercussions."
Perin added: "You might look at a holiday, send the link to someone who'll open it and the price will have changed because the cookies and metadata on that person show a different income."
The pair believe that this kind of practice is fundamentally wrong, and can cause problems at a consumer level with pestering advertisers and even cold calls leading to exploitation.
This is, of course, on top of continuing concerns about the storage of private information in the cloud and its interception by hackers and local intelligence agencies.
At a B2B level, Oscobo's anonymity makes it ideal for discreet searches in fields such as legal and medical where anonymity is essential.
Oscobo doesn't store details of searches, IP addresses of users or any other data. It offers searches based on the Bing/Yahoo back-end, returned on a purely algorithmic database and skewed only towards a UK audience.
Other regional versions may follow, but Oscobo is proud to be opening in a region which the founders believe is a perfect starting ground for people concerned about private searching.
"We're not out to compete with Duck Duck Go, which we like and is doing a fine job," said Cornell. "But being based in the UK and aimed at the UK is something that we're keen to reflect and adds value to our searches."
The only data stored by Oscobo is the standard hit-rate analytics, and a list of search terms but with no distinguishing identifiers whatsoever. Advertising on the site is displayed entirely based on the search term and no other factors.
Oscobo is available now for desktop and mobile. Extensions for Google Chrome and Firefox are, we are told, just the start, as the company begins its quest to give users an alternative to traditional search engines, with a UK bent and total privacy. µ
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