Privacy oriented search engine DuckDuckGo has been growing exponentially since it became one of the default search options on iOS 8 and a pre-installed search enginein Mozilla Firefox. DuckDuckGo’s traffic page shows how many search queries the search engine receives every day, with a graph marking key events in the company’s nearly seven-year history.
According to the graph, Edward Snowden’s leak of NSA (National Security Agency) files that revealed the agency’s mass surveillance programme marked the beginning of the exponential growth of DuckDuckGo. On Tuesday, DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg told CNBC that the search engine has has grown 600 percent over the past two years – since the surveillance revelations.
(Also see: 12 Things DuckDuckGo Can Do That Google Can’t)
DuckDuckGo is a search engine that doesn’t collect user data, unlike Google which tracks your searches to deliver personalised results and ads. “It’s really a myth that you need to track people to make money in search,” Weinberg said in the interview, adding, “We make money just with keyword advertising. You type in ‘car’ and you see a car ad.”
Weinberg said Google collects user data on many other sites because it runs huge a advertising network and needs data for other services such as Gmail. He said that’s why some ads follow users around the Internet. “If you just focus on Web search, you don’t really need to track people. Consumers don’t really understand that their data is being leaked for reasons they don’t even realise,” he said.
(Also see: How to Stop Google From Tracking You on the Web)
Privacy is also a big selling point for Apple, which has pointed out that free services treat people as products, not users. Apple’s WWDC 2015 keynote was full of references to how it cares about user privacy. Features such as the Touch ID fingerprint scannerand Proactive Assistant store user data on their specific iOS device.
DuckDuckGo is growing steadily but it is still far from challenging search giant Google. The company hopes that more people will use its search engine as they realise that Google tracks their data and seek privacy-focused alternatives.