The Most Private Search Engine on the Planet (Hint: It's Not Google) In fact, we here at The Sovereign Society have been telling you about the importance of it for more than 15 years. But along the way, the message became muted... it fell out of vogue and was lost to the new media age of Google, Facebook and iPhones. I will be honest, I thought I was the odd man out for trying to hang on to it.
Since June 6, the number of search queries on the DuckDuckGo search engine has doubled. Cryptocat, an Internet chat program has also seen its business double since then. And Tor, an Internet software program, has seen its downloads increase by more than 30% in less than four weeks.
The "it" that I am referring to is personal privacy - and the new-found desire for privacy is what's driving all of this new business activity. June 6, 2013 is the day the vast (and frightening) National Security Agency (NSA) domestic spying programs came to light.
Since the U.S. government's PRISM surveillance program came to light, we now know that it's possible for the NSA, the FBI and, eventually, the IRS to access the web activity, chat room discussions, emails, phone calls, and text messages of innocent citizens not suspected of committing a crime... and gather them all in government computers without needing to obtain a warrant.
Just let that sink in for a moment. Less than eight weeks ago, most of us thought such a thing could never, ever happen in the Land of the Free. But it is happening and it will continue to happen, according to President Obama, who referred to these once-unthinkable violations of our liberties and privacy as "minor intrusions" in our lives.
Personally, the PRISM revelations are the best thing that has happened to the U.S. in the last five years. Finally, the old paradigm through which most Americans see "our government" has been shattered. It's like Sleeping Beauty finally being roused from her deep sleep. As a nation, we must not accept - and willingly support - Big Brother's invasions of our privacy.
A Host of More Secure Alternatives
Unlike Google, Bing and Yahoo!, DuckDuckGo is a search engine that does not store personally identifiable information about peoples' search queries on its servers. You can see exactly how your Google search information is saved and sold, thanks to this simple diagram found on DuckDuckGo's website: http://donttrack.us/.
Another private third-party search engine is StartPage. When you search with StartPage, they remove all the identifying information from your online query and then submit it anonymously to Google themselves. They get the results and give them to you, keeping your information completely private. Your IP address is never stored... your visit is not logged and they don't place any tracking cookies on your browser.
You can keep your intranet chats private by using Cryptocat. This site encrypts all of its users' messages so that notes between you and family, friends, colleagues or employees stay off the radar.
What all of these companies, which have all provided customer data to the government, like Facebook, Google and Apple (and many others), realize is that many U.S. citizens still place a premium on their privacy... and you should too, before it's too late.
We Should All Be Fuming
Only 10 years ago, Steven Spielberg's action film Minority Report offered movie audiences a chilling glimpse of a future in which the government and police have a massive citizen data collection apparatus that is pervasive and omnipresent. Well, like it or not, that future is now.
Thankfully, there are companies, like those I've mentioned, providing private sector responses to these blatant affronts of our basic freedoms. And more have entered the fray, including TextSecure, a mobile app encryption service, and SpiderOak, a DropBox-like service that can't see the content of user files.
I hope that we will let our elected leaders know that spying on its citizens is not acceptable... and that it is no different than what the German government did in World War II. I'm proud to say that we've been way ahead of the curve on matters of liberty, privacy and encroaching government tyranny. And as we've learned of late, the work we do is more important than ever.