Search engine promises completely private surfing

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Search engine promises completely private surfing

Dutch search firm Ixquick has announced that it has stopped recording IP addresses in a bid to boost user privacy.

Issues surrounding the protection of personal information were once again brought to the fore during yesterday's second annual Data Privacy Day.

With a deluge of data breaches reported last year, along with warnings that vital personal information is becoming easily available on social networks, online privacy has come under the microscope like never before.

Industry giants such as Google and Microsoft have come under scrutiny from various sides regarding their policies around the anonymisation of search log data, while the UK government has been slammed for its plans to record electronic communications.

Under pressure from European regulators and privacy organisations, and rising public concern, the major search engines have offered to lower their data retention times to between three and 18 months.

Many search engines routinely record searches and their associated IP addresses in order to generate behavioural profiles, which can help return more accurate search results and provide more targeted advertising.

Ixquick explained that it used to delete the privacy details of its users within 48 hours, but that IP addresses will now not be recorded at all.

"At Ixquick we feel people have a fundamental right to privacy," said chief executive Robert Beens. "Using a search engine is sharing your innermost secrets and habits, which should be safe."

Ixquick also offers a secure connection over the https protocol to help ensure even greater privacy for its users, and is developing a proxy service to allow people to browse the web in full anonymity, which should be available in the next few months.

"With privacy, the devil is in the detail. These engines use log-ins and unique ID cookies that are automatically placed on your computer when you search," added Beens.

"Both techniques can 'glue' your searches together far beyond the officially claimed retention periods. That's why Ixquick doesn't use either of these methods."

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