Recent, seemingly collusive actions by American big-tech companies to suppress the ability of conservatives to exercise their First Amendment rights, has again highlighted the concerns of overreach and data privacy.
Duck Duck Go has become a popular alternative for those who have become frustrated with the lack of privacy infringed by companies like Google and Yahoo. Duck Duck Go prides itself on protecting users’ personally identifiable information, and its refusal to store IP addresses or unique user agent strings.
There is still reason for concern, however. According to an article by Hacker News after Duck Duck Go announced a partnership with Yahoo in 2016, “this potentially means that your search history is leaked to Yahoo.”
For conservatives determined to fight the arms of censorship, there may be another concern about Duck Duck Go — they also partner with Amazon, and in 2013 moved their servers to Amazon Web Services. Amazon has left a foul taste in the mouths of many conservatives after shutting off Parler’s servers, leaving millions of users in the dark and without access to their social media data.
There are greater concerns, regardless of what search engine Americans choose to use. The overreach of the federal government to obtain any user information from these companies is still very much a threat to privacy, and arguably a violation of Fourth Amendment rights. While some are satisfied that many dangers of that have passed with the expiration of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, most are completely unaware of an Executive Order that is still active.
Signed by President Reagan in 1981, Executive Order 12333 gives America’s intelligence agencies a frightening amount of ambiguous power. In fact that very concern was raised by bipartisan concern in Congress just last September.
Thankfully, the internet is a global endeavor that leaves people with several alternatives. Swisscows is a search engine hosted in Switzerland. They have their own servers and do not work with cloud or third-party services. Their data center is in the Swiss Alps – which some assert is the safest bunker in Europe. And, Swisscows has positioned everything geographically outside of the jurisdiction of the EU and US.
Another viable option is Qwant, a search engine based in France. Being based in Europe, the data privacy protections are much stricter as compared to the United States. Again, with servers physically outside of the jurisdiction of the US Federal Government.
Both Qwant and Swisscows have applications available for iPhone and Droid. I’ve begun experimenting with both and have yet to experience any issues with either. This 2020 article from Restore Privacy discusses both of these at greater length, as well as several other options.
For conservatives who are mindful of both privacy and political censorship, thankfully their are alternatives outside of the jurisdiction of the United States and big-tech tyrants, for those who seek to remain true to their principles.