The bottom line is that a few things seem to have come out of this:
- DuckDuckGo does not log your searches.
- DuckDuckGo potentially could be compelled to intercept a user’s traffic, but;
- DuckDuckGo actually doesn’t set cookies to identify users. Now, Hanff did find a cookie, but it appears to be from an third-party help-desk software provider — which has since been removed. That’s certainly a bit of mud of DuckDuckGo’s face, but compared to other sites I don’t see it as a big deal.
Basically if DuckDuckGo were compelled by legal action they would have very little (if anything) to turn over, and wouldn’t have a way to target a specific user for intercepts — at least not without the user being able to figure that out.1
I think a lot of people that saw me get this link were expecting me to cut out DuckDuckGo, but I just don’t see the major concern here. I would guess there is a concern if you are a terrorist, potentially, but for the average nerd? What’s the problem? None that I can see.
At the end of the day, this statement from the CEO and Founder of DuckDuckGo, Gabriel Weinberg, says everything I need to know:
In short, when you search on DuckDuckGo you are anonymous. That’s why it says search anonymously on our homepage. We stand by that statement wholeheartedly.
With any internet company it comes down to trust. Do you trust the people running the company? DuckDuckGo has garnered a large part of their user base by being anonymous and more specifically not Google — if they were found to be lying the company would die overnight. From what I can see, there were honest mistakes made, but nothing else of note.
I really could be wrong here, but that’s my best understanding. ↩