Home Business IT Security Ixquick sees post-PRISM search surge

In the light of the PRISM revelations and other concerns about government surveillance, it's not surprising that the StartPage and Ixquick search engines have seen a surge in traffic.

Unlike the well-known search engines, the operator of StartPage and Ixquick says it doesn't store user data and therefore has nothing of significance to turn over to government agencies.

"Since we don't store IP addresses or use tracking cookies, we've offered powerful privacy protection to our users since 2006," said Ixquick CEO Robert Beens.

"Our fans especially appreciate the fact that we are a Dutch company, which means we are not directly subject to the US Patriot Act. And of course, we have never participated in any program like PRISM."

The two search engines served over four million searches on Monday 1 July.

The previous record of three million searches in one day was set three weeks earlier.

StartPage acts as a proxy for Google's search engine, obtaining results without exposing the end user to Google.

While this adds a layer of privacy (Ixquick was the first company to receive the European privacy seal), it does mean that the Google results are not tailored to reflect the user's search history. Whether that's a good or bad thing depends on your point of view.

Ixquick carries out a metasearch, submitting the same query to several search engines and highlighting the results that are highly ranked by multiple engines.

Ixquick also pioneered the default use of HTTPS connections for searching, and the company plans to launch StartMail, a private email service with strong encryption, later this year. Potential users are invited to sign up as beta testers.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences, a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies, and is a senior member of the Australian Computer Society.

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