Privacy Blog

"Friends don’t let friends get spied on.' – Richard Stallman, President of the Free Software Foundation and longtime advocate of privacy in technology.

Phil Zimmermann joins Startpage.com

Phil Zimmermann

Phil Zimmermann, the creator of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), has joined Startpage.com “to spearhead its product innovation and crypto-development.”

In 2013, an article on Zimmermann’s Law quoted Phil Zimmermann as saying The natural flow of technology tends to move in the direction of making surveillance easier, and the ability of computers to track us doubles every eighteen months. You can read more about Phil Zimmermann on Wikipedia.

Startpage.com CEO Robert Beens revealed that Zimmermann will advise the company on its search product but that Zimmermann’s main focus will be the “development of the company’s next-generation PGP-encrypted email service”.

Startpage is an Internet search engine that allows users concerned about privacy to carry out Web searches and click on linked pages without being identified, tracked or recorded. The service offers use of a Startpage proxy that means the user is invisible to all websites, though pages load more slowly since Startpage must first retrieve the contents and then redisplay them.

The U.S. government and many other governments may subpoena citizens’ private information after it has been stored by Google, Bing, and other search engines. Startpage won’t do that simply because the company doesn’t store the information. Should a subpoena be received, Startpage will be unable to supply the requested information.

Every time you use a regular search engine (Google, Bing, and several others), your search data is recorded. Major search engines capture your IP address and use tracking cookies to make a record of your search terms, the time of your visit, and the links you choose – then they store that information in a giant database.

In addition, those searches reveal a shocking amount of personal information about you, such as your interests, family circumstances, political leanings, medical conditions, and more. This information is modern-day gold for marketers, government officials, black-hat hackers and criminals – all of whom would love to get their hands on your private search data.

Did you ever search for something and then for weeks after ads for similar products appeared during your travels around the Internet? Blame the search engine you used for the search! That search engine either used your personal information itself or sold it to others. (We’re looking at you, Facebook!)

Startpage doesn’t collect any information from your searches so obviously it doesn’t sell your personal information to others.

Maybe you should be using Startpage at https://www.startpage.com as your primary search engine?

Categories: People

4 replies

  1. Hi Dick. Thanks for the nice article and for recommending Startpage.com for search privacy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I tried Startpage. The very first results are “Ads from Google”! The search term was obviously passed to Google.
    Duckduckgo did not show any ads for the same search term.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi John. Startpage.com and Duckduckgo both fund operations through ads – but they are generic and not based on personal information. There is no need to go directly to Google or Yahoo with these two privacy alternatives:

      Startpage.com –> delivers mainly Google search results in privacy

      Duckduckgo –> delivers mainly Yahoo search results in privacy

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi, I have watched StartPage.com gradually sell out. But anyway, here is more information about their latest developments from another website:
    https://restoreprivacy.com/private-search-engine/
    EXCERPT:
    11. Startpage – Acquired by US ad-tech company (not recommended)
    startpage private search engine
    Startpage was previously one of my top recommendations for private search engines. Unfortunately, news surfaced in October 2019 that Startpage was acquired by System1 and the Privacy One Group. As described in my article on Startpage and System1, there are some remaining concerns:
    The fact that System1 has acquired a stake in Startpage and is not disclosing the details.
    The history and business model of System1, which includes gathering “as much data as possible” and profiling users.
    The board of directors change at Surfboard Holding BV (parent company of Startpage), to appoint the System1 co-founder and an outside investor.
    The long delay in alerting the public to these changes.
    The contradictory business models of System1 and a truly private search engine.
    Startpage’s refusal to answer my questions.
    Based on these latest developments, I am no longer recommending Startpage as a private search engine to my readers.
    Jurisdiction: Netherlands (officially, but at least partially owned by a US company)

    Like

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