Duck and cover
Alternative search engine DuckDuckGo celebrated three million daily searches yesterday, just eight days after surpassing the two million milestone.
In a tweet yesterday, the anonymous search engine put its astronomical growth in June down to users wanting "good private alternatives". It seems concern over the government's PRISM surveillance programme is driving users in the US to seek out the tracking-free search engine.
The beginning of the impressive DuckDuckGo traffic rise coincided with founder Gabriel Weinberg appearing on Bloomberg TV in a segment entitled 'The Search Engine that Vows Not to Track You', explaining the privacy measures that make DuckDuckGo different to the leading search engines. After slow and steady growth since launching in 2008, and a spike in interest after Data Privacy Day 2012, DuckDuckGo was hovering around the 1.4million mark - the recent climb in volume has caused several record days in a row.
Search Engine Land reported that StartPage and Ixquick, two other private search engines, have also seen growth in the aftermath of PRISM.
It was revealed on 6 June 2013 that the US National Security Agency had been spying on internet users for many years. Documents leaked by CIA worker Ed Snowden suggested that all the major search engine providers were being mined for data: Microsoft since 2007, Yahoo since 2008 and Google since 2009, as well as AOL since 2011. Larry Page strenuously denied Google involvement in PRISM last week, while Yahoo and Bing Microsoft also denied they had actively participated, apart from specific government requests relating to crime and international security.
Natalie Booth, head of search at theEword, said: "Despite Google, Bing and Yahoo denying any involvement in PRISM, it's easy to see why users are concerned, and are turning in droves to an alternative provider. While it's unlikely DuckDuckGo will reach a comparable level, the mood of paranoia combined with plenty of media coverage could soon see them competing with smaller search engines like Ask or AOL. Of course, it will also be interesting to see how they capitalise on this surge of popularity."