Burning Platforms: What's the go with DuckDuckGo?

Google's data hungry practices are in the spotlight - with live inquiries on its anti-competitive behaviour in advertising, its monopoly in search and reviews of data collection practices. DuckDuckGo shows an alternative way - that you can do business without the surveillance.


Full disclosure: DuckDuckGo supports the Centre for Responsible Technology as part of their 2021 donation round. However, the Centre supported DuckDuckGo prior to this and we have made our position clear against Google and its monopolistic and data extractive practices.

Key points:

  • Google announced an AU$1billion investment in Australia over 5 years to develop new technology like AI, quantum computing and climate technology. But we shouldn't take this at face value, with Google paying approximately only 1% tax in Australia, which if paid properly could go towards these areas through the public coffers.
  • We should also be wary of this funding, which includes a new research centre and partnerships with universities, and the impact and influence this will have on the outputs and research on tech.
  • This announcement comes as Google is being scrutinised by the Australian government, with several public inquiries on the company's conduct around antitrust, privacy and data collection
  • This could also be a way of embedding Google's systems and products into emerging technology, further entrenching their products and gaining early advantages.
  • There is a broader context this announcement is part of, with the Morrison government releasing a blueprint for critical technology as part of our digital future, to bolster our security and capabilities within global geopolitics.
  • Capabilities in emerging technology are becoming part of fundamentally different cultural ideologies between more democratic nations and those from more authoritarian governments, which could be part of a new form of technology-based cold war.
  • Control and governance of the internet could result in a 'splinternet' based on regional, cultural, ideological and legal differences.
  • Privacy company DuckDuckGo tries to make "privacy simplified" for online users, with products including a search engine, mobile browser, email protection service, and a tracker blocker.
  • DuckDuckGo's revenue comes from contextual advertising, based on your direct searches, as opposed to the data surveillance method from Google/Facebook.
  • Contextual advertising has for a time been a great model for digital advertising, until the Big Tech companies pushed the narrative that behavioural advertising, surveillance and microtargeting were the more effective methods. Now that privacy, data collection and user protections are being codified, models that use contextual advertising are once again proving to be a good solution.
  • A search engine choice screen is being proposed as one of the potential solutions for addressing Google's monopoly by allowing a default choice of search engine providers upfront and by default, rather than Google having the default position.
  • The US is also looking at Google's dominance, with several actions including the Justice Department looking at antitrust, Attorney General's case looking at advertising, and several states passing new privacy laws.


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