Google’s rise to the pole position of search engines was nothing short of meteoric. Many have tried to dominate this space on the internet and many have failed. Google won’t acknowledge that the word “Google” has become a verb because it would damage their trademark but the name has become truly synonymous with searching for information nonetheless. And who could fail to like a company whose slogan and mission is; “Don’t be evil.”? Except, of course, that “don’t be evil” was dropped in 2009 perhaps, when Google began to realize that it was going to be evil.
Edward Snowden and What Google Really Does With All of Our Data
You would have to have been living under a rock these past few years not to have heard of Edward Snowden. His exposure of the US government’s National Security Agency’s online snooping program (PRISM) is somewhat legendary now. One of the ugly truths that emerged from this was that Google was handing over our data to the NSA without so much as a whimper. They claimed this was because they were legally prevented from telling us. We think that they were morally obliged to tell us any way.
You see, we entered a contract with Google. We gave them our data and they were supposed to machine sift it and try and direct some advertising our way based on that data. That seemed a fair trade off for unlimited e-mail boxes and tailored search results. We didn’t agree that they could then hand over that data without our consent and for no specific reason to the American government.
Insurers have More to Fear from Google
Not only is Google now in the insurance aggregation business, it’s also rumored to be entering the insurance business full stop. When your brokerage or insurance business uses Google; it’s creating data for Google to plan its next insurance market strategy. You’re assisting Google to become better informed than you are about the competition and possible product lines. It’s got to be a fair conclusion that Google will take your data and use it to strengthen their position in insurance.
So What’s the Alternative?
Back in 1999, Google was the alternative search engine. It’s competitors like Alta-Vista are long gone, others like Yahoo! have been sidelined. Today, we need a Google alternative and there’s a new kid on the block that just might do the trick.
DuckDuckGo is a new search engine. They don’t log their users search data. They don’t personalize search results. They don’t harvest your data to exploit it commercially.
Thankfully, it also has a pretty clean interface and some decent features too. You can use it as your default search engine in any browser, it’s supported on the iPhone (no big surprises given Apple and Google’s competitive rivalry) and you can even use it in Google’s Chrome browser (though you might want to get rid of Chrome and hunt round for an alternative there too – it’s another chance for Google to harvest your data).
There are plenty of alternatives to Google Docs (such as OpenOffice) and Gmail (such as an independently or privately held e-mail server) but DuckDuckGo is one of the first real alternatives for search. Insurers and brokers can now ditch Google and perhaps it’s time that they did.