Type of site
|Headquarters||Wilhelmina van Pruisenweg 104, The Hague, the Netherlands|
|Parent||Surfboard Holding BV|
Startpage is a Dutch search engine company that highlights privacy as its distinguishing feature. The website advertises that it allows users to obtain Google Search results while protecting users' privacy by not storing personal information or search data and removing all trackers. Startpage.com also includes an Anonymous View browsing feature that allows users the option to open search results via proxy for increased anonymity. Because the company is based in the Netherlands, it is protected by Dutch and European Union privacy laws, and thus is not subject to United States surveillance programs, like PRISM.
Startpage.com began as a sister company of Ixquick, a metasearch engine founded in 1998. The two websites were merged in 2016. In October 2019, Startpage received a significant investment from Privacy One Group, a subsidiary of System1.
Ixquick was created in 1998 by David Bodnick in New York City. Initially, it provided metasearch for 14 different web and directory search engines as well as images, news, and MP3 engines. Results were sorted after evaluating how relevant each of the search tools found the query. Surfboard Holding BV, a company based in Zeist, Netherlands, and led by CEO Robert E. G. Beens, acquired Ixquick in 2000. Ixquick was re-launched on 23 March 2005 with new features including a redesigned metasearch algorithm.
Startpage.com began as a web directory in 2002 and started mirroring Ixquick the following year. On 7 July 2009, the company re-launched Startpage.com to fetch results only from the Google search engine. Prior to the release of Tor Browser version 4.5 in April 2015, Startpage.com was its default search engine.
Merger and recent history
On 29 March 2016, Ixquick.com was merged into the Startpage.com search engine. As of 2017, Startpage fields an estimated 2 billion searches. The company was one of 200 European companies that opposed the F.C.C. implementation of policies ending net neutrality.
In October 2019, Privacy One Group, owned by adtech company System1, acquired a majority stake in Startpage but, according to the company, its "founders may unilaterally reject any potential technical change that could negatively affect user privacy". By maintaining its headquarters and operations in the Netherlands, Startpage continues to be protected by Dutch and European Union (EU) privacy laws.
On 27 June 2006, following criticism of Google Shopping, the website began to delete private details of its users. Ixquick stated that it does not share the personal information of users with other search engines or with the provider of its sponsored results. According to The New York Times' Wirecutter, Startpage does not store user's personal information or search data. A May 2020 review of the website on ZDNet also states that Startpage "does not track, log, or share data or searching history".
In 2011, Startpage received the European Privacy Seal, a European Union–sponsored initiative that indicates compliance with EU laws and regulations on data security and privacy through a series of design and technical audits. It was re-certified in 2013 and 2015. The company has also completely ended the recording of user IP addresses since January 2009. Because Startpage is based in the Netherlands, it is also "not subject to US laws like the Patriot Act, and cannot be forced to comply with US dragnet surveillance programs, like PRISM." Startpage has also contributed €20,000 to NOYB, the non-profit organization founded by Max Schrems, which is committed to launching strategic court cases and media initiatives in support of the EU's General Data Protection Regulation.
The company also provides a stand-alone proxy service, Startpage.com Proxy, which is incorporated into the Startpage search engine. This feature, known as Anonymous View since 2018, allows users the option to open all search results via proxy.
StartMail, founded in 2014 by Startpage CEO Beens, was developed to offer a privacy protecting email service. StartMail also allows the creation of disposable and permanent email aliases for each account. Phil Zimmermann, the inventor of the PGP encryption system who Startpage hired in 2018 to advise the company on privacy technology, has also helped develop StartMail's PGP-encrypted email service.
Since Startpage.com does not collect user data, it does not serve targeted advertising based on user data history. The company generates revenue from its search engine by providing contextual advertising based on the keyword used to perform a search.
Startpage uses results from Google, for which it pays. As of July 2020, Startpage allows searches in 82 languages, including Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish.
The website has tabs for web searches as well as tabs for image and video searches. In November 2019, Startpage added a tab for news. According to the company, news searches are "not curated or personalized" and "every user who looks up the same term at the same time gets the same news".
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You can’t beat Google when it comes to online search. So we’re paying them to use their brilliant search results in order to remove all trackers and logs. The result: The world’s best and most private search engine. Only now you can search without ads following you around, recommending products you’ve already bought. And no more data mining by companies with dubious intentions. We want you to dance like nobody’s watching and search like nobody’s watching.
- "Feature Request: Can you add my interface language?". support.startpage.com. 21 July 2020. Archived from the original on 2020-09-14. Retrieved 2020-09-14.
- "Settings". www.startpage.com. Retrieved 2020-09-14.
- Sullivan, Laurie (21 November 2019). "Bing Feeds News Through Privacy Search Engine, Ensures User Anonymity". Search & Performance Marketing Daily. MediaPost Communications. Retrieved 17 August 2020.
- Brinkmann, Martin (21 November 2019). "Startpage launches News tab to help users escape filter bubbles". Ghacks. Retrieved 17 August 2020.