DuckDuckGo, the privacy-focused search engine that lives in Google’s enormous shadow, has joined its big rival and plenty of other western tech firms in being blocked in China.
DuckDuckGo founder and CEO Gabriel Weinberg confirmed the blockage to Tech In Asia this weekend, adding that he believes it started a few weeks ago. Weinberg says that he is unsure as to why the company got trapped in China’s internet censorship net.
A search for duckduckgo.com on the Great Fire censorship monitoring site suggests that the plucky young search engine was indeed first blocked around September 4.
Subsequent tests from Great Fire, which pings a range of URLs on a regular basis to identify whether they are blocked, suggest that the site is still not accessible in China.
The past 18 months have seen much progress for DuckDuckGo. Its user base grew significantly amid Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations last year, ending 2013 with over 1 billion searches.
An impressive number though that is, Google processes over 100 billion search queries each month — that said, DuckDuckGo has established itself as an option for those that appreciate its approach to privacy.
That point was illustrated when DuckDuckGo became the default private search engine for Apple’s Safari browser earlier this year. But it seems that the increased exposure has inadvertently made it a target for China.
That said, it is not clear what portion of its business that China accounts for, we suspect not a lot, so the company is unlikely to be massively affected by its China blackout — although iOS 8 users in China won’t be able to make it their default search option.
We’ve contacted DuckDuckGo for further comment and more details.