Possible privacy issues with DDG and Startpage

Discussion in 'privacy problems' started by SuperSapien, Nov 2, 2019.

  1. SuperSapien

    SuperSapien Registered Member

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  2. Reality

    Reality Registered Member

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    Interesting site. At the very least it would be wise not to trust any search engine not to (if not now, then eventually) make merchandise of your searches, no matter what they say. Worse, and more likely, is that they are piping this into data bases for later use against dissenters. Be careful what you use a SE for. Unlike you their data bases have impeccable memories.
     
  3. SuperSapien

    SuperSapien Registered Member

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    Good advise. But it sure is scary isn't it?
    I guess the only type of search engine you 'might' be able to trust fully is one that's not only paid for but open source.
     
  4. A_mouse

    A_mouse Registered Member

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    I think the reddit thread referenced in the article yields better info, or more precisely the official Startpage subreddit.
    They have put a page in their knowledgebase covering the 3rd party audit process they use to show they are private.

    We have discussed this in Steve Gibsons news groups and I think we generally have a similar opinion I see expressed at the Vivaldi forums.
    The site seems a bit conspiratorial and reactionary.

    If there was a data breach that can be traced back to them then that is evidence. All we have here is guilt by association.
    As long as the advert company can still make money (obviously less than usual) from an increasingly popular search engine without tracking or selling your data, they are still up on the deal.
    Same for hidemysearches.com they have advertising but not in a way that tracks

    Mind you if you do have concerns you can use Startpage behind another layer such as searx.me
     
  5. SuperSapien

    SuperSapien Registered Member

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    @ A_mouse

    Well that's a little reassuring. I wonder if the same can be said about DuckDuckGo? I mean DDG isn't suppose to do much tracking not as much as lets say Google or Bing but I've always was aware that there had to be some tracking going in order to pay the bills. I just hope DDG doesn't track as much as Google, Bing or Yahoo.
     
  6. Special

    Special Registered Member

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    A mere breakdown of the two search engines.


    StartPage - Based in NL / strong privacy laws
    Servers - owned and operated by them
    StartPage is owned by Surfboard Holding B.V., a privately held, independent Dutch company, run by Robert Beens, whose only activities are operating StartPage, Ixquick and StartMail. No 3rd party investors or venture capital behind it as far as I could find. StartPage (and Ixquick) generates income solely from advertising (Google Ads).
    Startpage has no partnership just a "Hello and Goodbye relationship" with Google - From Startpage 'StartPage purchases search results from Google because they are known to be the best in the world. We also run Google ads. We have negotiated a very strict contract with Google to ensure user privacy is protected. We NEVER create any persistent user identifiers to send to Google, and we never transmit even a portion of a user’s IP, to safeguard our users’ privacy.'
    Startpage has been audited by https://www.european-privacy-seal.eu/EPS-en/website-privacy-certification-overview
    Startpage does not give out a HTTP header field that identifies the address of the webpage.

    Duckduckgo - Based in US / very weak privacy laws
    Servers - hosted using Amazon (AWS)
    Bangs aren't safe. For example typing “!g kittens in basket” and hitting return, drops you off on the Google website to display your results (thus logging your IP, search term and browser info immediately).
    DuckDuckGo is owned by Gabriel Weinberg who is is the founder, current CEO and controlling shareholder. Investors/shareholders include Union Square Ventures and several others. DuckDuckGo generates it’s income from advertising (Bing Ads) and collects affiliate revenue (Amazon, eBay).
    Duckduckgo and Yahoo partnership https://web.archive.org/web/2016072...o/help/results/yahoo-technical-implementation & https://duck.co/blog/blog/post/311/yahoo-partnership
    Duckduckgo has no audit
    Duckduckgo gives out a HTTP header field that identifies the address of the webpage.


    Both companies were asked "if you were ordered to compromise your service/customer privacy in any way would you"

    DuckDuckGo – Gabriel Weinberg said: “No one is preventing me from doing that.”
    StartPage – “If we receive a request from any foreign government, including the United States, we will refuse to comply. Under the strong current laws that protect the right to privacy in Europe, European governments cannot legally force service providers to implement a blanket spying program on their users. Were that ever to change, we would move or close shop.”

    Now, which one looks like the better contender?
     
  7. SuperSapien

    SuperSapien Registered Member

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    @ Special

    To be honest both sound better than lets say Google but the clear winner when it comes to privacy would be Startpage although I personally prefer DDG for one reason the Bang searches which I use quite a bit but not so much for Google but for other sites (such as Wikipedia).;)
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2019
  8. Beyonder

    Beyonder Registered Member

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    >Techrights
    >Doesn't have https

    Anyway. Without any actual evidence of them selling data and misusing it, this looks like clickbait
     
  9. SuperSapien

    SuperSapien Registered Member

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    Good points.
     
  10. KeyPer4Life

    KeyPer4Life Registered Member

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    @Special

    [Startpage]

    Surfboard Holding shareholders were substantially reduced to its core founders, who
    acquired a majority stake in 2006.
    Privacy One Group Ltd, a privacy-focused division that is a separate operating unit
    of System1 LLC, as a significant new shareholder.
    Privacy One Group and Startpage’s relationship started in January 2019.
    System1 is a certified partner of the internet’s leading ad networks.
    System1 has buying strength across multiple networks and have unique
    search and ad partnerships with Google, Bing and Yahoo.

    [From Techrights article]
    Do you or anyone else have any info on Privacy One Group?
     
  11. syrinx

    syrinx Registered Member

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    Am I really the only one who finds the fact http://techrights.org doesn't even support proper HTTPS while talking about *potential* privacy issues on other sites hilariously sad?

    Edit: Nope it looks like @Beyonder also has some common sense.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2019
  12. Reality

    Reality Registered Member

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    @syrinx, well I hear you on the http and I'd already mentioned as much to someone in PM. But still, https is not a bed of roses either and perhaps people might get a false sense of security not knowing about where its weak points are.
     
  13. Beyonder

    Beyonder Registered Member

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    Are you joking? Even TLS 1.0 is a tidal wave better than no encryption at all. Having HTTPS on your site is no longer considered "security", it's considered normal common sense to protect your site in any way you can. Especially when it's free and can be done automagically these days.
     
  14. Reality

    Reality Registered Member

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    No.

    It would be helpful if you considered the first part of my post as well as what you quoted. I'll make it clearer than saying "I hear you". Even though I would not rely on it if I wanted 100% surety of confidentiality, https is for sure going to be a MUCH better option than http. I too question why the site in the first post is not https, but I wouldn't be too quick to write off the content either.
     
  15. mood

    mood Updates Team

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    Startpage Search owner changes raise serious questions
    November 16, 2019
    https://www.ghacks.net/2019/11/16/startpage-search-owner-changes-raise-serious-questions/
    PrivacyTools: Delisting Startpage.com
     
  16. Reality

    Reality Registered Member

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    @mood thanks for posting.
    So common these days, but no less a red flag to beware who you trust, or more accurately, how much trust you place in these sites.
     
  17. KeyPer4Life

    KeyPer4Life Registered Member

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    Search Engines we do not recommend

    https://tools.privacymachine.info/search.html

    DuckDuckGo is one of several on the list. Scroll down the page and read what it says
    on the search engine and its founder.

    Also timeline info:
    United online acquires Classmates.com Nov.2004
    United Online acquires The Names Database March 2006
    (Names Database was sold for $10 million)
    United Online, Inc. was an independent public company formed by the 2001 merger of
    NetZero and Juno Online Services.
    United Online provides advertising solutions to marketers with brand and direct response
    objectives through a full suite of display, search, email, and text-link opportunities across its Internet properties.
    DDG was launched in 2008 by the founder and CEO G.Weinberg.

    [Startpage]

    No one seems to know anything about this Privacy One Group. Can't find any detailed info
    on the web and what's posted on startpage is very vague. Another privacy search engine that
    seems to leave more unanswered questions than answered ones.
     
  18. korben

    korben Registered Member

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    It was just a matter of time...
     
  19. mood

    mood Updates Team

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    Startpage replies to questions about ownership change
    November 18, 2019
    https://www.ghacks.net/2019/11/18/startpage-replies-to-questions-about-ownership-change/
     
  20. KeyPer4Life

    KeyPer4Life Registered Member

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    Startpage "Privacy Policy" makes no reference to the new ownership structure and continues to
    suggest it is strictly a Dutch company.
    Startpage.com is owned and operated by Startpage BV, Postbus 1079, 3700 BB Zeist,
    The Netherlands. Representative for the Privacy Policy is Robert E.G. Beens. (CEO Startpage)

    https://www.startpage.com/en/search/privacy-policy.html

    Public records show M. Bend (chairman + co-founder system1) and J.P. Civantos
    (Managing Partner at Court Square Capital Ltd) joined the Surfboard Holding board of directors
    on December 31, 2018. Announcement from startpage was made approximately 9 months later.

    Court Square Capital Limited operates as a private equity firm. The Company invests in sectors such as business services, health care, industrials, media and publishing, and technology and telecommunications.
    Court Square Capital serves customers in the U.S. (New York based equity firm)

    System1 was founded in Venice, CA in 2013. System1 brings leadership in data science & engineering.
    System1 utilizes multiple subsystems to display content, advertisements, track site metrics, log click behavior, detect bots, and also for experimentation.

    Startpage is no longer recommended by Restore Privacy.
    Their conclusion after Startpage came out with recent further clarification.
    Similarly, PrivacyTools.io has also delisted Startpage as already stated in this thread.
     
  21. Reality

    Reality Registered Member

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    Thanks for the link. Very Interesting. Never really trusted DDG. Thanks also for your research on SP. Any company who makes bold claims about privacy, needs to be equally bold in their transparency and it's not looking good for Startpage is it.
     
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