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[liberationtech] DuckDuckGo and PRISM

carlo von lynX lynX at
Wed Apr 30 01:26:42 PDT 2014

On Wed, Apr 30, 2014 at 12:33:52AM +0100, Bernard Tyers wrote:
> > Oh, you need an app to use search?
> Yep, it's called a web browser. Orbot is a web browser.

Exactly, so you can ship ixquick or startpage instead of DDG.
I wished there was at least one more alternative, but I haven't
seen any realistic options.

> > ... are totally irrelevant considering US law that forbids them
> > from letting you know if the NSA has virtual memory access to all
> > of their servers. Probably there is just one person inside the
> > entire company who would know and must in no way tell anybody
> > else.
> It's a mixture of:
> a. how hard is it for a user to search with *some reasonable
> semblence* of privacy

- google: none
- ddg: at least google makes a little less profit on you
- ixquick: there is a chance your search is actually private

> b. how trustworthy are they, or better worded "how much does the user
> *feel* they can trust them?

that is exactly the wrongest way to look at it. commerce is
all about denying the truth and making you feel good about
the damage you are doing to yourself.

> c. how easy/hard is it for government agencies to intercept/get access
> to search terms.

using DDG does not change anything about their ability to see
what you are searching for. by using DDG you merely vaguely
reduce google's ability to make business out of your data.
still google will place cookies on you whenever you surf to
a website that uses jquery or any other google api or fonts -
so the improvement isn't huge.

> To address a. with Google - it's pretty f'ing hard. People forget
> they've logged in as they use whatever service from Google. At which
> point you've lost it.
> b. People hear people they trust (in other words, a lot of people on
> this list) telling them you can trust DDG.

Yes, that's the same failure that drove everyone to Google in 1997.
We just keep repeating sheep strategies.

> Their website *looks* trustworthy (worth nothing in reality, I'll
> agree), and so people will make a decision based on both of those,
> hopefully.

Hopefully? That's the foundation of the demise of humanity. The fact
that we are superficial by default. And rather trust our gut feeling
rather than collective intelligence, ignoring that gut feeling is
just a time-delayed expression of things that have been injected in
your brain when you were a child.

The last thing the world needs is people that promote this treacherous
thing called gut feeling.

> I have watched people making decisions to use a website based on
> decisions such as "well it looks like a <service I was testing>
> website", even though they had to go through 4-5 links which were
> served higher.

Yes, who needs experts, who needs to check out a knowledgable website
for trustworthy recommendations if you can decide by gut feeling?

> c. Most people don't take this into account as they are just trying to
> do a web search.

Yeah, they are just clicking some coloured stuff.

> Hopefully a. and b. above have been successful in reducing the
> likelihood of an issue. And as for c. this is outside the users control.

No, no and no.

> Ultimately they'll make a decision on what suits them, so lets try and
> help them be a little bit safer.

Yes, stop putting a default search engine which will expose
their interests to the NSA, even if everyone is acting in the
best intentions, the NSA included.

> > YacY still adheres to the pure ideology of P2P, putting
> > computational, spidering and search load on each participant. There
> > should be an incentive for diverse people to run it in the Internet
> > backbone and a possibility to use a client that accesses the DHT
> > without having to participate in it and contribute back.
> > Essentially, YacY should learn from Tor.
> And as for I support any service they increases user privacy.
> When I go to their index page I get:
> "Web Search by the people, for the people
> YaCy is a free search engine that anyone can use to build a search
> portal for their intranet or to help search the public internet. When
> contributing to the world-wide peer network, the scale of YaCy is
> limited only by the number of users in the world and can index
> billions of web pages. It is fully decentralized, all users of the
> search engine network are equal, the network does not store user
> search requests and it is not possible for anyone to censor the
> content of the shared index. We want to achieve freedom of information
> through a free, distributed web search which is powered by the world's
> users."
> If I was a non-technical user, within about 2 seconds I'd close this
> tab and go back to Google.

The projects shouldn't have to promote themselves to the end users
and the end users should understand they have not a faint chance
of figuring out what is good for them by themselves.

> They need to redesign their front page and focus on what they built it
> to do: help people search.

Maybe it would actually stick if they say "YaCy - a search engine that
runs on your own computer so you don't have to let anybody know what you
are searching for" - but I'm not sure if the DHT query strategy is
sufficiently anonymized.


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