I love it when bits of information come together serendipitously. This morning the ALA sent me an email and a friend made a Facebook post, and now you all have a (potentially) useful blog post about…
PRIVACY ON THE INTERNET!
Anyhow, the ALA alerted me to Choose Privacy Week, being held May 1-7. They say,
We live in an age when knowledge is power. New technologies give us unprecedented access to information. They also facilitate surveillance, with the power to collect and mine personal information.
People enjoy the convenience of having information at their fingertips. But most people don’t realize the trade off. For example, citizens turn a blind eye to the fact that online searches create traceable records that make them vulnerable to questioning by the FBI, or that government agencies can track their phone calls, airline travel, online purchases, and more.
As political activists, we are probably a little more aware of these problems than the average citizenry, even if we don’t really know what to do about it. Since some of our comrades have started getting visits from the authorities, maybe we should lend the issue a little more thought.
Anyway, there’s this: DuckDuckGo. A librarian friend brought it to my attention this morning. It’s a search engine that claims to offer pretty good privacy (friend says, “No saved and reported searches, no IP addresses, no sent and stored cookies, and no ads. Plus it’s adorable.”). It also seems to return search results that are nearly as good as, if not as good as, Google’s.
Now, I don’t know how true these claims are, but my computer-y folks seem to think it’s pretty good — one programmer friend uses it as his default search tool, but notes that since large swaths of the rest of the internet uses Google Analytics or Ads, you still have to deal with being tracked from that end. A public librarian friend says she recommends it to patrons who are doing “sensative” or “potentially illegal” searching.
Anyway, I wanted to throw that out there and crowd-source a bit. If you’ve never heard of it, give it a whirl. Those who’ve used it, what do you think? And, does anyone know of other, similarly useful tools?