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[liberationtech] DuckDuckGo vs Startpage [was: Help test Tor Browser]

Mike Perry mikeperry at
Mon Jun 24 17:20:50 PDT 2013

Nadim Kobeissi:
> I'd just like to add that I'm a DuckDuckGo user myself and that I can
> definitely vouch for the service.

I've had a number of people tell me that they vouch for DuckDuckGo. What
does this even mean? Nobody seems to be capable of rationally explaining

Have you inspected their datacenter/server security? Have you audited
their logging mechanisms?

Does DuckDuckGo even have an https channel to Bing on the back end?

Note that I don't vouch for StartPage. I merely think that StartPage
provides superior search results to DDG.

In fact, I wish both companies the best of luck business-wise, and I'm
happy to have both of them at the two top positions in TBB's omnibox.

This is because right now, there are only two ways to get https web
search results over Tor. Microsoft allows Tor, but has officially
refused to support https directly for Bing. Google regularly bans Tor
nodes entirely, often without the possibility of even entering a Captcha
or using a valid Gmail account (both of which are non-starters for a
default engine of course, but would be better than status quo).

Every time Tor tries to start a conversation with either Google or
Microsoft on these two topics, they both give us a litany of excuses as
to why fixing the situation is a "hard problem", even after we present
potential cost-effective engineering solutions to both problems.

For this reason, the loss of either DDG or Startpage would scare the
shit out of me, but right now, neither one has done enough for Tor to
warrant the default search position**, and since StartPage tends to
index more of the deep web faster, it is my opinion we should stick with
them as the top position, and have DDG in second.

** Sure, DuckDuckGo runs a hidden service, and also one of the slowest
Tor relays on the network (rate limited to 50KB/sec or less), but it is
quite debatable as to if either of these things are actually helpful to
Tor. In fact, such a slow Tor relay probably harms Tor performance more
than helps (in the rare event that you actually happen to select it).

Mike Perry

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