Search Engines Should Become Government Spies, Says EU Parliament
Ixquick and Startpage will fight "Big Brother" data retention clause in Declaration 29
(Brussels / New York / Zeist June 28, 2010) A draconian proposal toretain all Internet search traffic, known as "Written Declaration 29," was adopted by the European Parliament last week. Framed as a measure to crack down on paedophiles, the controversial Declaration calls on the EU to require that search engines store all search traffic for up to two years for possible analysis by authorities.
Search engine Ixquick (www.ixquick.com), widely regarded as the world's most private search engine, has built a strong privacy reputation bystoring no search data on its users. The company believes it has been singled out by the data retention proposal, and it has vowed to strongly oppose the measure becoming law.
"Since Google, Yahoo, and Bing already retain users' search data, this proposal is clearly aimed at Ixquick and our English-language subsidiaryStartpage (www.startpage.com)," said Robert Beens, CEO of Ixquick. "We have worked hard to create a privacy-friendly search engine that embodies the spirit of EU Privacy Protections, in line with the strict recommendations of the EU Article 29 Data Protection Working Party. This Declaration is evidence that the left hand of the EU does not know whatthe right hand is doing."
Mr. Beens fears that if the measure becomes law, it will vastly undermine the privacy of over 500 million law-abiding EU citizens.Storing everyone's search data, rather than restricting surveillance to known or suspected offenders, would give the government access to a rich trove of political, medical, professional, and personal data on virtually every person in Europe. And critics say it will do little to stop child pornography.
"Sex offenders exchange files through underground networks. They don't find this stuff through search engines," said Alex Hanff of Privacy International, an advocacy group that is launching a campaign against the measure. "I spent eight years helping law enforcement track down online sex offenders and never once did we see a case where search engine data was useful."
Ixquick will join the public campaign started by Privacy International to stop the provisions of Written Declaration 29 from becoming law.
"Privacy is a fundamental right and the basis of a free society. The phenomenal success of Ixquick and Startpage proves that people don't want to be watched by their governments," said Mr. Beens. "Spying on law-abiding citizens is not the way forward, and we will stand by our principles to protect the public's ability to search in privacy."