Ever since the Snowden relevations, privacy search engines and privacy in general has been a boom on the Internet.

Search engines focused on privacy have seen a rise in daily searches. While they are still nowhere near popular as Google Search or Bing, the two main search services in most parts of the world, they have shown that there is a market for these kind of services.

Oscobo is a new privacy focused search engine that shares similarities with established players such as Startpage or DuckDuckGo.

The creators of the search engine promise that they don't track users and don't set cookies on user computer systems, and that users are not profiled in any shape or form.

Oscobo review

The search engine's current address is https://oscobo.co.uk/ which highlights one of the limitations in place currently as it is focused on users from the UK at the moment.

The site does not set cookies which you can verify by opening the Developer Tools of the web browser you are using and checking the resources of the site.


While that is the case, results include English pages outside the UK as well. The results page looks like any other search engine for the most part but displays results from Twitter next to the actual results which can be interesting as these results are usually not as old (but may be more spammy).

oscobo search

The top lists options to switch from Web searches to videos, images or news, and you may find advertisement listed on the results page as well.

The only information used to determine which advertisement to display are the search term and the user's locations (using the IP address), and both are not recorded by the search engine.

It is quite difficult to spot the ad as it uses the same format as organic results. Only the small "ad"  link underneath the description field indicates advertisement.


Like DuckDuckGo, search results are taken from Bing/Yahoo. Using data from one or multiple of the big search engines out there appears to be the only financially viable solution for privacy focused search companies.

It will be interesting to see how Oscobo will fare when they enter non-English markets, as localized Bing results are usually not that good.

Users who like the search engine can make it the default search engine for their browser, add it to their browser, or install the extension. The options are displayed on the homepage, but only if the browser used is supported.

The extension seems to be only available for Chrome-based browsers right now for instance.

Closing Words

Oscobo or DuckDuckGo? The two search engines are very similar in many regards: both use Bing to power their results, both don't track or profile users, and both use advertisement for revenue generation.

If you look closer, you find distinguishing factors. DuckDuckGo concentrates on the US market, while Oscobo on UK (and in the future other European markets). DuckDuckGo certainly has the edge when it comes to features, its !bang syntax is excellent for instance and Oscobo does not support a feature like the zero-click information that DuckDuckGo may display on top of the results.

Author : Martin Brinkmann

Source : http://www.ghacks.net/2016/01/07/oscobo-a-new-privacy-focused-search-engine/

Categorized in Search Engine

A new London-based search engine, Oscobo just launched promising an anonymous searching experience on a platform that won’t sell or store user information.

Having spent 12 years working at Yahoo, co-founder Fred Cornell says he has seen for himself how the search engine industry harvests user data for financial gain.

Cornell was inspired to start Oscobo after growing uncomfortable with the lack user privacy offered by the leading search engines. He argues more data is being collected with what is needed, and people are starting to become more concerned about how that data is used.

The privacy search market is growing at a faster rate than the regular search market, Cornell says, likely referring to the successes of DuckDuckGo over the past year. Just recently it was reported that DuckDuckGo grew 70% over 2015, and this past summer it reached the milestone of 10 million searches per day.

Oscobo aims to be the UK’s answer to DuckDuckGo — a privacy-based search engine built for the UK market. While anyone can use Oscobo, at this time it is built to deliver results for a UK audience. Throughout 2016 the company will roll its search engine out to more countries, along with country-specific search settings for those countries.

At this time, Oscobo does not have any of its own search technology. Instead, it is licensing its search index from Bing/Yahoo. This is an indication that Oscobo does not intend to compete on tech, but rather on its ability to offer a more private searching experience.

The privately-funded company intends to make money through what it describes as simple paid search. Its paid search ads will rely on the most basic search data — what a person types into the query box.

Being London-based, Oscobo has a unique advantage in the privacy search market: it cannot be forced to provide user data at any point. US-based search engines can be forced to provide data on its users to law enforcement.

Oscobo is live and available to use today at Oscobo.co.uk.

Source : https://www.searchenginejournal.com/oscobo/153341/

Categorized in Internet Privacy

We’re frequently told Brits don’t care a fig-leaf for online privacy. But one London-based startup is about to test that theory — it’s just launched an anonymous search engine, called Oscobo, initially serving up search results specifically for the U.K. market. (Although the intention is to scale the model to other European markets in time too.)

The founders are starting with the U.K. because they reckon Brits do care about not being snooped on online — certainly once they are made aware of how much tracking is being done in the background by dominant search engines like Google. And if offered an easy to use alternative, which is where they’re hoping Oscobo will come in.

Think of it as a DuckDuckGo that serves up U.K.-specific results by default…


One of the two co-founders, Fred Cornell, used to work at Yahoo, so has seen the evolution of the search and online ad industry up close. “I worked for Yahoo for over 12 years and I really like Yahoo but I saw first hand how the industry tracks users, uses personal data, keeps pushing harder to make even more money from harvesting more of the data,” he tells TechCrunch.

“Search engines, ad exchanges, advertisers, publishers, data traders, everyone’s at it. And I became uncomfortable with the whole scene and decided I wanted to provide an alternative and a better deal for users who are concerned with online privacy.”

Go back more than a decade and Cornell argues there used to be a fair ‘social contract’ in place between the web user and the online advertisers and publishers. But in recent years he says that balance — i.e. of looking at an ad and getting to view some free content — has become hugely skewed, with far more personal data being harvested than can be justified. (And of course he’s not the only one saying as much.)

“Over the last — particularly the last five, six years, with the rise of ad exchanges and data harvesting — I think that that social contract is in breach… more personal data is being collected than is actually needed and the user has very little say in this,” he says, adding: “People are starting to become concerned about what happens with their personal data, how is it being used and so on.”

He points to huge growth in the privacy search segment, outstripping the overall rate of growth in search (a $62.5 billion global market last year), as another encouraging factor. Last summer, for instance, DuckDuckGo said it had grown 600 per cent over the past two years in the wake of the Snowden revelations about government mass surveillance programs.

Also on the rise in recent years: ad blocking — a technology increasingly associated with the privacy/anti-tracking movement, not just with pure-play ad-blocking. Last year Apple also threw its weight behind the online privacy cause very publicly. And where Cupertino walks others are bound to follow.

“We think that this is right on time to do something like this,” says Cornell.

“We’ve been following DuckDuckGo in the States and we’ve realized that via education they’ve managed to grow the traffic… They have really validated this marketplace,” adds co-founder Rob Perin, who used to work at BlackBerry. “The U.K. marketplace is a very ethical marketplace, I think people do believe very much in their rights.”

Oscobo is licensing its search index from Bing/Yahoo so does not have any semantic search tech of its own. Unlike European rival Hulbee, a Swiss tech company, which last year launched its own pro-privacy consumer search engine in Europe — and raised a bunch of money — another sign of growing interest in non-profiling consumer search.

Licensing its search index from companies that have already spent billions on competing with Google does at least mean Oscobo is sidestepping the problem of trying to compete head on with Google’s tech. On the advertiser side, they also have a deal in place with Yahoo’s ad marketplace — doubtless leveraging Cornell’s industry connections there.

So what’s the business model? How is Oscobo planning to make money if it’s not being evil tracking and data mining its users a la the Google goliath?

Its model is simple paid search, based on bare-bones search data (i.e. whatever string a user is searching for) and their location — given the product is serving the U.K. market this is assumed to be the U.K., but whatever search string they input may further flesh out a more specific location.

“We think it’s a bit of a myth that you need to track users, store IPs and profile them and cookie them to make money for paid search. What the advertiser is paying for is the intent behind someone typing in a keyword… So we still think that there’s a lot of money to be made in paid search without having to keep IPs and profile users and keep track of them wherever they go, offline or online or with mobile phones and so on,” says Perin. “We essentially throw the IP address away straight away, we don’t even log it. We don’t drop any cookies.”

How much money? Oscobo says the privacy segment of the search market was worth about 0.1% in 2014 but reckons it will grow to between 0.5 to 0.7% this year (a projected growth rate of 200% to 300% year-on-year). Which may not sound like much but the overall search market is forecast to be worth $71.8 billion this year so you can see why they’re keen to cut themselves a very small slice of that.


“We’ve got a proven business model. This generates revenue — it’s a very simple model. It’s advertiser driven. So we’re not here to grow the community and milk it later. We should be financially viable from day one,” says Cornell.

“Google have other objectives [than search]. We are forfeiting [user profiling] data to prove a pure and open service where the social contract is you come to our site, the first two links you get will be sponsored ads. If you choose to click on them it’s fair enough there’s an agreement there. If you don’t we don’t look to see where you go afterwards and when you turn on your mobile phone.”

“In terms of targeting there is a very well defined marketplace for U.K. ads for Yahoo and Bing, and that’s for the U.K., the marketplace we tap into, and then we target the keyword,” adds Perin.

The startup is privately funded at this point, including by the co-founders. Depending on how quickly they intend to scale — by launching horizontal pro-privacy products for other European markets — they say they might seek to raise additional funding.

“This year we have a roadmap. We will be rolling out into other countries. We will be providing country-specific search in those countries. For the time being we’re focusing our attention on the U.K., and as it does expand of course we’ll be open to investors,” says Cornell. “Our challenge in Europe different to DuckDuckGo is they have one big market in the U.S. America’s always lucky to have that. We go cross culture. So we’d have to have this conversation in German and Italian and Spanish and whatever.”



Categorized in Search Engine


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