DuckDuckGo, PRISM, and the new business of privacy

For Facebook and Google, your data is a window into your soul, your interests, and your buying habits. It’s how they can convince advertisers that giving them money makes sense. It’s how they’ve gotten rich.

But the rise of data companies has also given birth to more than a few companies dedicated to protecting your data — or at least not actively harvesting it.
One of the more prominent ones right now is DuckDuckGo, a tiny search engine that’s shown that, if you put privacy at the center of your product, people will pay attention. In the wake of the PRISM scandal, DuckDuckGo saw its traffic climb 26 percent over the course of a few days.

DuckDuckGo founder Gabe Weinberg takes a very obvious stance here. “In search, you can make lots of money without tracking people,” he said.

Like Google, DuckDuckDo bases its business of the simple logic of contextual advertising and sponsored links: When you search for something using the site, DuckDuckGo serves you ads based off of your queries — all without attempting to track, identify, or create a profile on you.