"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Search Engine that Doesn't Capture Your Personal Data

Reclaim your power to keep your personal information.  That's our mantra for parents and taxpayers.  If you reclaim your power from Google and Facebook by not using those sites,  we should have the right to send our kids to public schools that don't individually track them and send their data to various federal agencies and private companies.  

Can we put DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg in charge of the Department of Education instead of Arne Duncan?  Weinberg understands aggregate data can be helpful but has no interest in personal data retrieval.  We need a Secretary of Education who agrees with that belief.

From cnbc.com and DuckDuckGo Search Engine Gets Boost After PRISM Scandal:

The 'anonymous' search engine DuckDuckGo is getting a boost off the PRISM scandal that is putting big tech companies like Google and Apple to shame.

(Read More: How Prism Might Work, and Why That Matters to Congress and You )

DuckDuckGo, a search engine that claims it gives its users complete anonymity, has seen a 33 percent increase in users since the NSA news broke over a week ago, said founder and CEO Gabriel Weinberg on CNBC's Closing Bell Tuesday.

"We always knew people didn't want to be tracked, but what hadn't happened was reporting on the private alternatives and so it's no surprise that people are making a choice to switch to things that that will give them great results and also have real privacy," Weinberg said.

Basically, most tech companies store user information—like searches, email account data, searches on social platforms—in data warehouses, so that it can be accessed again. But DuckDuckGo opts to throw any of that information away and not to save it, Weinberg said.

While the default settings on the search engine are set to not track users' searches or any personal information, if a user changes these settings, information about the user could still leak out, according to the company's privacy policy.

(Read More: Leaker's Employer Became Wealthy Through Government Secrets )

The policy states:
"We also save searches, but again, not in a personally identifiable way, as we do not store IP addresses or unique User agent strings. We use aggregate, non-personal search data to improve things like misspellings...If you turn redirects off in the settings and you don't either turn POST on or use our encrypted site, then your search could leak to sites you click on. Yet as explained above, this does not happen by default."
Big tech companies—like Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and Apple—all were subject to thousands of government inquiries about user information. DuckDuckGo, though, didn't have the government knocking on their door. 

"We had zero inquiries and the reason for that is because we don't store any data," Weinberg said. "So if they come to us—which they know because it's in our privacy policy—we have nothing to hand over, it's all anonymous data."

But that doesn't mean the government can't come after any information that the user has chosen to share by changing their default settings.

The privacy policy clearly states that "... like anyone else, we will comply with court ordered legal requests. However, in our case, we don't expect any because there is nothing useful to give them since we don't collect any personal information.
_ By CNBC's Cadie Thompson. Follow her on Twitter

Watch an interview with Weinberg here.  Now if only people would be as proactive in demanding no personal information being shared on their children.....

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