DuckDuckGo, “the search engine that doesn’t track you,” involves its users in the selection process as it hands out nine $25,000 awards to mostly FOSS projects.
It appears as if people have been using DuckDuckGo’s privacy centered search enough to make the company successful. Certainly not we-control-the-world successful like Google, but successful enough to give it some cash-on-hand breathing room. Also successful enough for the company to give back to the community by handing out $225,000 to some free and open source projects.
This isn’t the first time they’ve done this. Last year they handed out $125,000 to five projects — meaning that this year they’ve nearly doubled down on their bet. Last year’s donations included money going to the Electronic Frontier Foundations Privacy Badger — a browser add-on that stops advertisers and other trackers from following users — and Girl Develop It for its Open Source Mentorship program.
This year the company made nine donations of $25,000 each to nine projects that were in part chosen by the search engine’s user community. FOSS Force has reached out to DuckDuckGo for more more information, but at press time has received no response.
The criteria for this year’s awards were posted in a blog by DuckDuckGo staff member Daniel Davis on February 13 that opened the community voting process.
“This year the theme remains privacy-focused but is also more closely aligned with our vision which is to raise the standard of trust online,” he wrote. “The donation pool amount has yet to be decided but will be split between 6-10 projects, half of which will be chosen from community nominations.”
In another blog post on Tuesday that featured a video of Gabriel Weinberg, DuckDuckGo’s founder, making the official announcement of the recipients, Davis listed the projects:
The Freenet Project: A fifteen-year-old project seeking to “re-establish freedom of speech on the internet” by way of a peer-to-peer network offering censorship-resistant communication.
The OpenBSD Foundation: For their support of projects such as OpenSSH, OpenBGPD, OpenNTPD, OpenSMTPD, LibreSSL and mandoc. “Our donation should help with their 2016 goal of increasing support for development while still offering regular support for their existing projects,” Davis wrote.
The CrypTech Project: A hardware project that’s developing an “open-source hardware cryptographic engine design that meets the needs of high assurance Internet infrastructure systems that use cryptography.”
The Tor Project: The money here was donated to support Tor’s hidden onion services. When thanking the search company for its donation, Tor Project executive director Shari Steele said, “Onion/hidden services are used by activists around the world to report government abuse, by journalists to communicate with their sources, and by individuals who want to research anonymously and securely.”
Fight for the Future: This award was for Save Security which is not an open source project, but one that seeks to “seize every teachable moment to educate the public about the importance of encryption; to provide the tools that can be used to advocate reform; and to build a large and diverse coalition that includes allies across the political spectrum as well as a cadre of organizations and businesses.”
The Open Source Technology Improvement Fund: This organization’s purpose is to “connect open-source security projects with much-needed funding and logistical support.” DuckDuckGo’s award here was earmarked for VeraCrypt, free disk encryption software based on TrueCrypt 7.1a.
Riseup Labs: For LEAP, a “non-profit dedicated to giving all internet users access to secure communication.” The project is developing a suite of high security, easy-to-use communication tools that includes the LEAP Platform for service providers and Bitmask, a still in beta cross-platform app that provides a local proxy for email clients, as well as an easy-to-use VPN service.
At this point, I’m willing to believe that the folks at DuckDuckGo are good guys — a rare breed in the business world these days. I’m making it my default for search.