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DuckDuckGo Profits on Privacy
Thursday, January 6, 2022

2021 was a rough year for many businesses, but there was at least one winner: in a recent blog post, privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo reported a record growth of over 46 percent and now claims to serve more than 27 million Americans. Unlike other search engines, which sell targeted advertisements based on individual user profiles, DuckDuckGo does not track individual consumers. Instead, the search engine makes money by delivering advertisements based on keywords used in a specific search without tracking the user behind the query.

DuckDuckGo is set to capitalize on its strong 2021 showing by launching a new privacy-focused desktop web browser that promises “no complicated settings, no misleading warnings, no ‘levels’ of privacy protection – just robust privacy protection that works by default, across search, browsing, email, and more.” This new offering will be built from the ground up rather than being built upon Google’s popular Chromium browser base. DuckDuckGo CEO Daniel Weinberg claims that this approach, which will leverage the rendering engines built into Windows and MacOS, will allow the company to deliver a faster browsing experience without the myriad of telemetry processes built into conventional browsers.

Since its 2008 founding, DuckDuckGo has expanded well beyond its roots as a search engine alternative. In addition to its search engine, the company now offers a tracker-blocking browser add-on, Android and iOS apps, and an email tracker removal tool (now in beta testing). If this growth trend continues, it could indicate that an increasing number of consumers are placing a premium on privacy. Other tech companies may wish to take note that customers’ desire for privacy-first products is driving a fast-growing market.

*This post was authored by C. Blair Robinson, legal intern at Robinson+Cole. Blair is not yet admitted to practice law.

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