In this article, we will first explain why you should switch your default Search Engine to Start Page dot com and then explain how to make this switch. You can think of Start Page as like doing a Google Search only without all of the tracking of your data.
Have you ever noticed that after you do a Google or Bing Search on a particular product or topic, ads related to that exact product start appearing in the side bar of completely unrelated websites such as news websites? I recently was doing research on a particular type of Solid State Drive called an M.2 SATA drive. Ever since then, when I visit various news websites, there have been ads from Amazon and others urging me to purchase an M.2 SATA drive from them! It is not merely corporations who are spying on us in order to increase corporate profits, it is government agencies. A friend of mine got put on the “no-fly” list apparently because they had done some research and visited a “bad” website. What is particularly bad is how corporations spy on small children in order to sell them products and manipulate them. Our kids are viewed as just another chance to make a buck by wealthy corporations.
By now, most people have probably figured out that Google, Amazon and Microsoft are spying on them and on their kids by monitoring our web searches. Many have even taken the step to switch to a more secure web browser and a more secure search engine as a first step towards protecting themselves and their kids. What fewer people know is that any web browser or search engine located in the United States is inherently insecure due to out of control spy agencies that think they have a right to spy on innocent Americans in the name of “national security.” Sadly, this includes so-called “secure” search engines such as Duck Duck Go.
Why We should Avoid Duck Duck Go
Duck Duck Go claims that they are a “secure search engine” that protects people from government and corporate spying. However, the claim that DDG does not keep logs or disclose your searches does not stand up to scrutiny. Alexander Hanff points out some important legal problems with Duck Duck Go – based mainly on the fact that Duck Duck Go is located in the US and therefore subject to US (lack of) privacy laws:
“People ask if Duck Duck Go is a good alternative to Google and Bing. Sadly, I have to say, absolutely not. They can't be trusted because they are under the jurisdiction of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court. If Duck Duck Go's CEO, Gabriel Weinberg, were subject to a FISA Court order and disclosed the fact (to Duck Duck Go users), he would almost certainly end up in prison for breach of the order and contempt of court. To make matters worse, Duck Duck Go are not audited by any external body, so we only have their word that they are not an NSA honey pot setup to monitor people that deliberately avoid Google ... Until the US government change their laws and policies US companies cannot be trusted, whether it is there fault or not.”
If major US corporations like Google and Yahoo can't stand up to the NSA, what chance does Duck Duck Go have? An important reason to use Startpage.com for secure searches is that Startpage is not located in the US or owned by a US corporation. StartPage is owned by Netherlands-based Surfboard Holding BV. Privacy laws are much stronger in Europe than they are in the US.
Even worse, DDG runs on Amazon's "Cloud", aka surveillance platform. The Amazon cloud is certainly not secure. Duck Duck Go is a dangerous search engine to be using at the very least because it’s hosted by Amazon, which received $600 million dollars from the CIA to help keep every bit of our data (mass surveillance) forever. Equally disturbing is where Duck Duck Go gets their search results from. Two of their main sources are Yahoo and Bing – both associated with Microsoft. The most important thing users can do to protect their privacy is to dump Microsoftand Windows. Any company or service that does not put that as protection number one is not really promoting privacy and security.
How to Reset your Home Page and Search Engine to Start Page dot com
You can reset the “Home” page of any web browser, even Google, to Start Page dot com. Here we will explain how to make this change with the Firefox web browser that comes by default with Linux Mint.
When we installed Mint, it included the Firefox web browser and was set with Linux Mint as the Home page. While you certainly should spend some time reading the Linux Mint forum, which has all kinds of useful tips, we will change the start page for Firefox to Start Page dot com. To do this, open Firefox and click on the three bars in the upper right corner. Then click on Preferences.
This will open the General Home page settings confirming that Linux Mint is set for your Home page:
Open a new tab and search for startpage.com. Then copy this link, go back to the previous tab and paste it into the Home Page box.
Then click on Search in the left side menu and change the default Search Engine to Start Page.
Then click on Privacy and check the box requesting that sites not track you.
Then click Content and change the default font from Serif to Liberation Sans. Then click the three bars again and click Customize. At the bottom of the screen, uncheck bookmarks and check the menu. Displaying the Firefox menu will make it easier for us to clear the browser cache when building and checking web pages. Now that we have set up a more secure web browser and search engine, in the next section we will set up a more secure email system.