The search engine Ixquick (www.ixquick.com) is the world's most private search engine. It focuses on delivering great search results with the best possible privacy. Ixquick is known as Startpage in the United States (www.startpage.com).
Ixquick was developed and launched in 1998 by David Bodnick in New York. In the year 2000, it was acquired by Surfboard Holding B.V, a privately held Dutch corporation whose only activities are operating Ixquick and Startpage. Since its inception in 1998, Ixquick has grown steadily, primarily as a result of word-of-mouth referrals. A number of awards have contributed to our growth, including:
- 1st European Privacy Seal awarded by certifying authority Europrise
- Awarded best metasearch by Search Engine Watch in 2000, 2002, and 2004
Ixquick has steadily increased in popularity since becoming the first search engine dedicated to privacy in 2006. As of January 2010, Ixquick had served over 1.2 billion searches.
- No recording of users' IP addresses.
- No identifying cookies.
- No collection of personal data.
- No sharing personal data with third parties.
- Offering secure, encrypted connections (HTTPS/SSL)
- And a full proxy service to be launched in January 2010.
The internet contains immense amounts of information that gives us unprecedented access to shopping, news, entertainment, and more. Search engines help us navigate all of that data to find what we're looking for quickly and efficiently. This convenience hasn't come without a price, however. A serious potential danger associated with the use of search engines is the loss of privacy.
In 2005, Ixquick's management undertook an audit to identify the company's liabilities. One shocking finding was that we had collected a huge amount of privacy-sensitive information on our users. Like other search engines, we had stored things like people's search terms, the times and dates of their visits, what links they had chosen to click on, their IP addresses, and their user ID cookies. The technical reasons for collecting the data were simple, and unfortunately widespread in today's IT environment: "It doesn't cost much, it's very easy to do, and the data may come in handy in the future".
As we looked at that mountain of data, however, it began to look like more of a privacy liability than a business asset. We had never sold the information or used it commercially. Since Ixquick is an independent company focused solely on search, we were not interested in combining user data with other services we offer. In sum, we had a database full of user details we neither needed nor wanted. We asked ourselves why we were storing all that privacy-sensitive information, and we realized there was no good reason for it.
That realization took the company in a bold new direction, and from that point forward we made protecting our user's privacy our number one priority. In June 2006, we purged our database and retroactively deleted all IP addresses and other stored search data. We began deleting all new IP addresses within 48 hours. And starting in January 2009, we stopped recording IP addresses at all.
We have now optimized our search processes to guarantee privacy and ensure that we never collect personal data on our users. We also work to ensure that user search data is not collected by other parties. Ixquick is the only leading search engine to offer Secure Socket Layer (SSL) or HTTPS encryption to prevent search queries from being eavesdropped on by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) or unscrupulous WiFi providers and hackers. In recognition of these unique features, Ixquick received the first European Privacy Award from EU Privacy Commissioner, Mr. Peter Hustinx, in July 2008.
Our business model hinges on excellent search capabilities combined with complete privacy. Going forward, Ixquick will continue to offer innovative privacy-enhancing features and services. Our upcoming Proxy service will allow users to visit third-party websites anonymously through Ixquick's servers without being tracked by those websites. And we are also exploring ways to offer a truly safe email service. As the Internet continues to evolve, Ixquick will stand by its commitment to privacy.
Great search results
Ixquick is a powerful meta-search engine which simultaneously searches multiple popular search engines and Internet databases to gather and display the most comprehensive and accurate Web results. Unlike single search engines such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing, Ixquick can cover more of the Internet than any one search engine alone. By combining search results, Ixquick can help users avoid the commercial manipulation of certain sites known as "cloaking" that makes them rank artificially high on individual engines.
Ixquick continues to offer new features to enhance the usefulness and power of its search engine, including a highlighting feature to emphasize search terms on a result page, Universal Power Search, a Global Search, and Power Refinement. Ixquick also provides phone numbers and addresses worldwide through our International Phone Directory, and users can search through 18 million hours of video content with our Video Search.
Ixquick is owned by a privately held corporation, Surfboard Holding BV, so it is completely independent of outside forces that might seek to exploit user data. Ixquick is not affiliated with any national or international organization, corporation, commercial enterprise, government, or intelligence agency. Of course, Ixquick would be obligated to comply with legal demands for information from proper government authorities, but because we have no personal information on file, there would be no data to deliver. Maybe that's why Ixquick has never been subpoenaed for any user data.
From our inception, Ixquick has strived to stay small and flexible and to maintain the creative and innovative spirit of our founder, David Bodnick. We have offices in three countries, with staff and volunteers in the Netherlands, the US and India. Website management, administrative and financial work is mainly done from the Netherlands; technical architecture from New York; while our group of highly skilled software engineers in New Delhi, India, take care of most of the site's maintenance and development.
Currently, the management team consists of Ixquick's creator and technologist David Bodnick; Dr. Katherine Albrecht, who handles US media relations and marketing initiatives; Robert Beens, managing director; and Alex van Eesteren as vice president of marketing and sales. Our growing array of servers is located in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and Palo Alto, USA.
Our competitors are search engines offering similar search services to Ixquick's. Google, of course, holds the lion's share of the search market, along with Yahoo and Bing. In the narrower meta-search field, Infospace (owner of Dogpile, WebCrawler and MetaCrawler) is our main competitor. When it comes to privacy, Ixquick has no real competitors to speak of, as we are the only search engine worldwide to offer fully secure, third-party certified private web search.
Ixquick is a growing and profitable company. Since making privacy our focus in 2006, we have attracted a loyal user following and have now served over 1.2 billion searches (as of December 2009). Our current focus is on further extending the privacy services we offer and growing our user base.
Ixquick is a privately held company, so we do not report financial information. We can report that we are fiscally sound and have been profitable for the last five years. To facilitate the user experience, Ixquick has opted for a clean and simple user interface with a minimum of advertisements. Some result pages show relevant sponsored results, which are clearly indicated at the top of the page and limited to three sponsored results per page. The presentation of these ads has been carefully thought through to safeguard users' privacy, and at no point does Ixquick ever share user data with any third party. Ixquick's profitability enables us to invest heavily in software development and further privacy.
Startpage (by Ixquick)
Because the name Ixquick can be somewhat difficult to remember and spell, people asked us for an easier name. We were happy to oblige by releasing Startpage (www.startpage.com) in 2009. Startpage is powered by the Ixquick search engine and offers exactly the same product and privacy as Ixquick. Startpage is only available in the English language at present, but we expect to launch Startpage in additional major languages later in 2010.
Search engine privacy is an increasingly important topic and one that will continue to grow. For 2010 and 2011, Ixquick expects to continue expanding the privacy services we offer. Our soon-to-be-launched Proxy service will be a huge contribution to the cause, and we are exploring ways to offer safe email as well. We believe Ixquick is a tremendous resource, and we are proud to offer an excellent search resource that protects privacy to the Internet Community.