The Internet used to be a friendlier place. In the late 1990’s, it was Microsoft versus the rest of the world. We had Gopher and WAIS as early pre-cursors to Internet search engines, then along came AltaVista, Yahoo and Google. I was never keen on Yahoo, AltaVista was kind of interesting, but Google was it for me; as a geek with a UNIX and security background, it was the search engine I constantly used, until recently. I used to say to people, “Have you tried using Uncle Google to find what you are looking for?”
Over the years, it has become apparent that many online services are not only annoying, but downright invasive. I read a book called Future Crimes by Marc Goodman which outlined succinctly how companies such as Google, Facebook and many others mine your data and target you with advertisements, or sell your mined data to others so they can bombard you with services. Even the browsers we use, by default, usually connect into Google somewhere, so I am constantly being mined. There is no such thing as a free Internet service.
Isn’t this a perverse situation? For those of us who read George Orwell’s 1984 about a future world where there is no privacy, aimed at the former Soviet Union, it is perverse that we are in exactly the same position in the so-called free world; perhaps my improved ration of cabbages will appear after all.
According to recent surveys, most of the world (approximately 80%) uses Android by Google, especially in developing countries. Countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States, United Kingdom and much of the EU use the Apple ecosystem. Switching to Apple doesn’t safeguard you either, you still need to go to your settings and select a different search engine. If you are a diehard Android fan, consider CopperheadOS, a stripped-down version of Android that works on a modded version of the Nexus or Pixel range. Blackberry, Windows Mobile or SymbianOS anyone?
So, I have switched my search engine to DuckDuckGo. Why? Because it is what Google used to be. Light. Simple. Non-invasive. Anonymous. Private. And most importantly, I am not being tracked. Am I missing out on any search results? Yes, I am – I am not getting paid-for Ad services appearing at the top of my search results – what a relief! In reality, you get less search results, but is that such a bad thing? When was the last time you went beyond the fifth page of search results? With DuckDuckGo, you receive higher quality results without the data mining and cross-milling of junk you don’t need.
I value my anonymity and privacy, and specifically try to keep a light footprint wherever I go. DuckDuckGo is the new default search engine for me. #ComeToTheDuckSide