dredmorbius
I happen to know the author of that via G+ and Diaspora. While I agree with him on some matters, I find his arguments here strikingly uncompelling.

My own response on Diaspora: , adapted (slightly) here:

I disagree markedly on several points. I find both you (Dr. Roy Schestowitz) and Will Hill non-credible in this regard.

DDG's claim is clear: "The search engine that doesn't track you.":

"That's why we don't send your searches to other sites. Or store any personal information at all. That's our privacy policy in a nutshell."

If they're in general violation of its parameters, which is to say, if they're logging user IPs, search phrases, or other data, or are passing it along to third parties, they're in clear violation of their stated practices. That is fraud.

And while fraud isn't unheard of, it's still illegal, and this would be an extraordinarily brazen business risk to take. Moreover, there are other companies which have and do operate offering privacy as a feature. Some have even voluntarily folded when it became clear they could no longer credibly do so.

The claims are verifiable and auditable. The fact that such audits haven't been performed doesn't mean the can't or won't be. And frankly, DDG are getting to the point that this likely should be done just to put your tired objections to rest.

Even allowing for intercepts, no logging is a net win. It makes the spooks work harder -- increases the work factor. Rather than have data available for recovery at will, they've got to invest time and equipment in harvesting it. The truth is that lawful intercepts can happen at any service provider, so at the very least, DDG are on equal footing. If it matters that much to you, you can run services such as privoxy and TOR to further anonymize your activity and profile.

DDG's traffic growth sends a signal to other service providers. If the company continues to show month-on-month growth (), it's a very clear sign that there is a public interest in online privacy.

I had a recent conversation with a Google engineer who admitted that Google really doesn't get much advantage from a detailed personal information dossier -- the most valuable information is current query and location (the exchange is here though I delete my G+ content over time: ).

Robert Bayardo's comment:

"The claim that Google requires intrusive personal dossiers for revenue generation is a myth. Google doesn't even use detailed personal dossiers in search ads, which we all know generates the vast majority of Google's revenue. It's really hard to do much better in search advertising than current query + location. Yes, we do a bit more than that, and will probably do more personalization going forward, but more personalization rarely yields more revenue. Instead, it usually improves our metrics associated with user satisfaction, although again the effects are probably far smaller than you would think."

Which does rather beggar the question: if it's not useful, and if it's causing so much pain, why collect it?

Concluding: DDG offers several clear advantages. Even recognizing that they cannot offer total guarantees, this is better than simply accepting the status quo.
posted by dredmorbius 4 years and 1 month ago Link