SECURE SEARCH ENGINE DuckDuckGo has seen a 600 percent increase in use since the public disclosure of NSA spying practices in 2013.
Head DuckDuckGo honcho Gabe Weinberg told CNBC that the Edward Snowden revelations about initiatives such as the PRISM public data collection project had left people craving a way to search the internet without being tracked.
"It's a myth that you need to track people to make money in search. We use keywords. If you type in 'car' you get a car ad," he said.
DuckDuckGo had its best day ever on the Friday after the initial Snowden revelations appeared, scoring 2.54 million direct searches in a single 24-hour period.
"Already we're doing around three billion searches a year, so we're already pretty mainstream," said Weinberg before going on to quote figures suggesting that 40 percent of Americans would rather use a search engine that isn't tracked.
"If you concentrate on search you don't need to track people. That's what most people don't even realise," he explained.
Weinberg was referring to the fact that most metadata collection revolves around the additional services companies offer, such as photo storage and personal assistants.
DuckDuckGo, on the other hand, has taken things back to basics and has been rewarded with a current Alexa rating of 520.
Mozilla employs a similar approach in its business model, which uses keywords to populate sponsored tiles on the new tab page of its browser - its first foray into advertising.
DuckDuckGo is in many ways the antithesis of a tech company. As well as offering complete confidentiality, and not attempting to break out of the search space into other areas, it also retains its base of operations in Paoli, Pennsylvania.
It's a town about the size of Diss in Norfolk and has closer associations with Amish simplicity than Silicon Valley. Oh, and of course it's near Scranton, home of Dunder Mifflin paper.
"People want transparency and they want control, and usually they're getting neither," said Weinberg.
He pointed out at the time of the initial Snowden revelations that "if the FBI or NSA comes to us, we have nothing to tie back to you".
DuckDuckGo's profile has been further bolstered by its arrival as a default browsing option in Firefox and Safari. µ
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