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DuckDuckGo Daily Searches Hits 30 Million This Week – Signaling a Change in User Behavior

DuckDuckGo, a search engine dedicated to privacy and transparency, hit 30 million daily direct searches this week.  The DuckDuckGo platform does not store users’ personal information, does not follow users with ads, and provides users with privacy information related to websites the user visits, which is far different from how traditional search sites such as Google currently operate.  This record high daily direct search number is reflective of the increasing importance users are placing on their privacy.  

This shift in user behavior coupled with the recent influx of funding the company received this summer is an indication of changes to come.  While DuckDuckGo has been around for about 10 years, the recent developments in regulations (GDPR, the California Consumer Privacy Act, etc.) as well as publicized revelations of company practices around user data (Google, Facebook, etc.) suggest that users are paying more attention and so are investors.

So how does it work?  Instead of tracking and profiling users, DuckDuckGo displays ads based on the keywords being searched at the time of the search instead of ads based on user profiles.  Why does this matter?  This has various implications depending on your perspective. 

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From the regulatory perspective, this is important because the new regulations limit the types of data companies can store about users and then grants rights to those individuals that companies have to comply with.  By not profiling user data, DuckDuckGo is not subject to these regulations (as it relates to this type of data). 

From the user’s perspective, it means you don’t have to worry every time you search for something that it will end up in a user profile that is used for marketing.  Simply put, you won’t see ads related to your search terms following you around on the internet. 

So, while you should always be mindful of what you are searching for, using DuckDuckGo offers far more privacy and security in terms of keeping this information secure.  Corporations should take note of the changing consumer behavior and consider adapting their business models to reduce regulatory compliance requirements. They can do this by aligning their data behavior to pro privacy values through tracking less and disclosing more.

Written by Emily McNeeley, CIPP/US, Attorney, Intuitive Edge Team