Dutch anonymous search engine hits internationally

The search engines Ixquick and StartPage.com benefit enormously from the so-called Snowden effect. Because they are used anonymously, they are now used for five million searches every day. "How many users we have? No idea. Where they come from? No idea either. "Alex van Eesteren of Ixquick and StartPage

The search engines Ixquick and StartPage.com benefit enormously from the so-called Snowden effect. Because they are used anonymously, they are now used for five million searches every day.

"How many users we have? No idea. Where they come from? No idea either. "Alex van Eesteren of Ixquick and StartPage.com do not know much about its users. Remarkable according to current standards. A 'killer feature' if you ask the users.

Last year the search engines processed 1.25 billion searches. An average of five million per day. That number is already higher again. By way of comparison: the anonymous search engine DuckDuckGo in the US traded a billion searches last year.

Ixquick is a meta search engine that all major searchers, after Google, question. StartPage.com, on the other hand, acts as an intermediary between Google and the user. As a result, Google never gets information about its end user. That is what happens in Zeist.

An important reason for the growth in use is the privacy concerns that arose in the US after newspaper publications about material that the whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked over the NSA. Van Eesteren observes that more and more people and companies are looking for safer alternatives. These are by definition not available in the US, because large-scale screening and listening in are regulated in the law. The European rules are stricter.

The Dutch search engines got an official stamp from Europe in 2008 that states that the privacy of the users is optimally protected. Namely, nothing is demonstrably preserved. The highest privacy boss of Germany's strictest state in the field of privacy personally signed the Europrise certificate. Every six months the systems are checked and every two years the certification process has to be repeated.

Money earns Dutch companies by placing sponsored search results with the organic ones. A profit is made.

In the coming months, Van Eesteren and his team will bring a new product to the market: StartMail. This is a mail service that has been built from the ground up with safety and privacy as primary guidelines (PGP, TLS, encrypted vault, hosting in the EU, etc.). Last week the public beta went live. The pricing is not yet known.