and your online privacy?

While it might be arguable that there is no such thing as privacy anymore, we have to keep trying.

Some things we have clear control over. For example what we post to Facebook or other online sites is in our control. What is not under our control is what Facebook does with it from there.  With new rulings, The House just voted to wipe away the FCC’s landmark Internet privacy protections, it is a reasonable fear that your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and Google or Yahoo or whoever you use for a search engine will be selling information about where you go and what you read. What can you do about it? While the USA is not a very privacy friendly country, others do better. So one privacy option is to move your online searches ‘off shore’.

One option I have been using for a while is to StartPage . It is a search engine you can use rather than Google or Yahoo. StartPage is a privately held Dutch corporation. According to it’s history page it was the first search engine dedicated to privacy and launched back in 2006. Dutch privacy laws are far more protective than ours. Having the search engine servers located in a privacy supporting country seems like a real good idea. Even if you just want to reduce the ‘ad spam’.

From their privacy statement.

“StartPage has the industry’s leading Privacy Policy:

  • No recording of users’ IP addresses.
  • No identifying cookies.
  • No collection of personal data.
  • No sharing personal data with third parties.
  • Offering secure, encrypted connections (HTTPS/SSL)
  • And a free proxy service that allows anonymous browsing of websites.”

“StartPage, and its sister search engine Ixquick, are the only third-party certified search engines in the world that do not record your IP address or track your searches.”

StartPage does not store or pass on any information. It creates a https secure connection to their server. What this means is that you ISP and just about anyone else will, at most, only know that you use StartPage but will not be able to see any searches and results that are done while using StartPage. But once you go to that site you found with your search, you are back in the ‘real’ un-private world and whatever the site captures will be used however that site wants.

Search engines have the potential to develop a profile of you from your searches that is far more detailed and predictive than a single site can by itself. This kind of information has great value to advertisers and others. In this way the search engine can be a kind of internet surveillance camera recording your online travels. With a privacy based search engine such as StarPage you get some increased privacy –  but it is not a cure all.

I likeStartPage it because it has a clean and fast search and does not clutter the search results with ads. It should limit the information that advertiser profiling agencies can get.  Best of all the searches are as fast or faster than other search engines.

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