A Simple Countersurveillance Tool

I've been using Startpage for awhile now.  It's as easy as setting it as your homepage and then you can use the Google search engine without all the invasive tracking.  While on Startpage today, I clicked on a hyperlink about PRISM, the latest internet surveillance scandal.  This may interest you.




No PRISM. No Surveillance. No Government Back Doors. You Have our Word on it.

Giant US government Internet spying scandal revealed

The Washington Post and The Guardian have revealed a US government mass Internet surveillance program code-named "PRISM". They report that the NSA and the FBI have been tapping directly into the servers of nine US service providers, including Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Apple, Yahoo, YouTube, AOL and Skype, and began this surveillance program at least seven years ago. (clarifying slides)

These revelations are shaking up an international debate.

StartPage has always been very outspoken when it comes to protecting people's Privacy and civil liberties. So it won't surprise you that we are a strong opponent of overreaching, unaccountable spy programs like PRISM. In the past, even government surveillance programs that were begun with good intentions have become tools for abuse, for example tracking civil rights and anti-war protesters.

Programs like PRISM undermine our Privacy, disrupt faith in governments, and are a danger to the free Internet.

StartPage and its sister search engine Ixquick have in their 14-year history never provided a single byte of user data to the US government, or any other government or agency. Not under PRISM, nor under any other program in the US, nor under any program anywhere in the world. We are not like Yahoo, Facebook, Google, Apple, Skype, or the other US companies who got caught up in the web of PRISM surveillance.

Here's how we are different:

  • StartPage does not store any user data. We make this perfectly clear to everyone, including any governmental agencies. We do not record the IP addresses of our users and we don't use tracking cookies, so there is literally no data about you on our servers to access. Since we don't even know who our customers are, we can't share anything with Big Brother. In fact, we've never gotten even a single request from a governmental authority to supply user data in the fourteen years we've been in business.
  • StartPage uses encryption (HTTPS) by default. Encryption prevents snooping. Your searches are encrypted, so others can't "tap" the Internet connection to snoop what you're searching for. This combination of not storing data together with using strong encryption for the connections is key in protecting your Privacy.
  • Our company is based in The Netherlands, Europe. US jurisdiction does not apply to us, at least not directly. Any request or demand from ANY government (including the US) to deliver user data, will be thoroughly checked by our lawyers, and we will not comply unless the law which actually applies to us would undeniably require it from us. And even in that hypothetical situation, we refer to our first point; we don't even have any user data to give. We will never cooperate with voluntary spying programs like PRISM.
  • StartPage cannot be forced to start spying. Given the strong protection of the Right to Privacy in Europe, European governments cannot just start forcing service providers like us to implement a blanket spying program on their users. And if that ever changed, we would fight this to the end.

Privacy. It's not just our policy, it's our mission.


Robert E.G. Beens
CEO StartPage.com and Ixquick.com


tscout's picture

  I'm going to see if this will work overseas. I have had to use straight google, with a tunnel program(astrill) in china. Firefox wouldn't work here, at least not a couple of years ago...Running straight google allowed me access to my gmail. even if my tunnel program goes out,,i can get to email through hong kong google.....i will try this out before I return,,,,,,,,

Noa's picture

I'm overseas and it works for me.

tscout's picture

  are blacked out here. I have become suspicious of the whole google/china war, as it seems to work better than anything else here. The biggest chinese browser is Baidu,,,,but,,,you need major protection to surf it, many sites have so many ads and adware that you literally can't see the page you're trying to read,,,literally! It took about 2 weeks to pollute a completely clean chinese computer i used in my office here. I put avg in it and it stopped just about everything.....I tried startpage today and it seems to be fine,,,so I will set it up when I get back,,,i hope to get a new computer before my next trip....

Wendy's picture

I've been using startpage for years now - In the states only of course but just so you know it's been around for quite a few years and it's been very reliable. Of course if the NSA or whoever was looking at what I was searching with startpage, I'd probably never know.

lightwins's picture

with your last statement, Wendy. Startpage could be one of innumberable shell fronts for NSA.

Noa's picture

I went looking for dirt about Startpage and didn't find any.

lightwins's picture

Honestly, I simply do not know. What I am saying is, that if it were, the tracks might be very well covered.


So your just sharing a self projected fear...yeah john?

lightwins's picture

I am just aware of how these alphabet agencies have worked and given their enormous and growing reach; I am expressing the caution that I feel. As I said, I do not know what is true here. Please, by all means, Jez, feel free to do as you please. I do.

Brian's picture

 Just throwing in an opinion here (mine no more valuable than anothers)... I thought it felt like fear, not caution when reading your words John. Defaulting on the assumption of guilt is a strategy of the fear brain to protect the self from being 'tricked again'. No one wants to be fooled. I might know-I've gone there many times.

Hey john, as your supposed to be aware of the more subtle aspects of communication and the physcology of such......why would you state I can do as I please?...what a totally pointless comment, but then what is behind the comment?....you know and I know that I don't need your permission...thought you would know such things without the need to be told...you are unable to take a backward step yeah?

Noa's picture

I might say the same about all this John-bashing.


Wendy's picture

Anyone know of an e-mail provider that even makes the kind of claims that startpage makes about protecting privacy? I wish startpage would start an e-mail service.

If we asked Obama something he would not take it serious, he would pass us off and he would not feel any need to be honest or sincere...cool he is Obama...I feel john does the same stuff.... he also regularly  claims to be aware of fears etc.to understand the subtlties of words etc....if this is true  then he does what he does on purpose, consciously and if so he is an arrogant bully...or no bully its just he is not aware..so which is it, I have watched this fear mongering for 5 years....I have often wondered if john was here to mislead people, we hear about people paid for comment on forums, i have often considered john a possible candidate.....

The queen of cheap comments adds her pointless part......I asked john, as I have many times, a real question, he does not answer as he does not like seeing himself....everytime....then he claims expertise at , wait for it......seeing himself!.....a recurring pattern he can't see in his "open moments" or whatever label he stuck on it....


Bob07's picture

Jez, I f'm sorry, but I flagged your last two comments as inapproriate.  I've never done this before.  When a dicussion devolves into blatant name-calling and worse, it's gone beyon the topic and into attacking the person (exactly what we don't like our politicians to do at election time).  It's time for everyone to stop and pause, IMHO.  We all have the habit of looking at the faults of the other guy, but, as the saying goes, when I point the finger at him, three fingers point back to me.  What's my state?  Where am I coming from right now?  What's my effect on the situation?

So... maybe things can be made better.

In making this comment, I'm not pretending to be better than anyone else; indeed, I've done the same at times.  But at this moment I'm not "in the soup", so I offer a few words from "outside the soup".

What does f'm mean?....and your being as judgemental as i ....I disagree with your comment, your guesses into human nature aren't very accurate in my opinion,

Bob07's picture

A simple typo, Jez:  "I'm" is what I meant.

I don't have any more to say.

Exactly my point, your last comment is saying something hidden behind "I have nothing to say,"...see you did have something to say....ego often adds at the end...if you didn't need to say it you wouldnt have typed it...it has purpose, same as johns comment , ....to me your saying something down the lines of I'm not worth talking to....your talking down to me and trying to be the bigger man about it...hence I take insult....

Bob07's picture

Your point is well taken, Jez.  I'll admit to some ego expression there.  I slipped right into the soup.  Hah!

So I did have more to say, didn't I?  But I wasn't talking down to you or suggesting I'm better; that's not my stuff.  I meant that I see that I can't contribute to the conversation, it would go nowhere but down, so I'm leaving it. 

Outta the soup.

Cool, thanks for playin bob......most here can but one or two can't......bummer.....

fredburks's picture

Hey Jez,

John is a personal friend I have known and deeply appreciated for over five years now. He has been incredibly helpful and supportive of me and of the work of PEERS in many ways. He is one of five people on the PEERS board of directors.

If you are having these feelings about John, I invite you to contact him directly to see how he might respond. I've had numerous people make serious claims about me being a government mole or whatever without ever bothering to try to contact me about it.

Especially in an intimate forum like this, I invite you to reach out to people personally before making claims like those above. You just might be surprised at what a warm and wonderful man John is.

Wishing you love and support,

fredburks's picture

Hey Jez, do we have to resort to name calling here? What's going on dude? I love you and am concerned. Are we all committed here to trying to find ways to love and support each other?

With much love and support to you,

fredburks's picture

I don't get how the comment "could be one of innumberable shell fronts for NSA" sounds like fear. Could you guys explain? Sounds pretty clear to me like John was just stating his opinion.

Viveka's picture
Pakistan sisters shot  for dancing in the rain

Pakistan sisters shot for dancing in the rain

Two teenage sisters in Pakistan have been shot dead in a suspected 'honour killing' after a video clip emerged of them dancing in the rain.

Five unidentified men in the Chillas town in the Northern areas of Pakistan shot and killed Noor Basra, 16, and Noor Sheza, 15, and their mother, News24online reported.

Local police have detained Khutore, 22, the sisters' step brother, for allegedly planning the attack.

"It seems that the two girls have been murdered after they were accused of tarnishing their family's name by making a video of themselves dancing in the rain,” a police officer told News24online.

"The girls were seen running around in traditional dress with two other younger children outside their bungalow in the town of Chillas, in the northern region of Gilgit,” relative Momina Bashir said

Human rights activists Atiya Jehan says the video of the sisters breaking into dance and flashing a smile at the camera became “a big issue in Chillas area”.



lightwins's picture

The way I experienced this exchange followed this sequence. I thought Startpage as a good idea which, I tend to believe is actually impossible since Eschelon in the nineties. I felt concern and reservations that people would imagine it was truly clean when I knew, based on everything I have learned, about the universal pervasiveness of the surveilance state/corp., that cleanness was very unlikely.

In response, you proceeded to assess my input as coming from fear. I looked and didn't actually find fear in me in relation to this whole thing; I have been aware I've been tracked for years and, I actually prefer transparency as I see that as the stage we go through before wide-open telepathy becomes available. (this is increasingly common, now, in my 22 year marriage as we have less and less withholds)

Personally, I am unwilling to tell anyone what they are feeling as I have often been wrong in my perceptions of others' states. I am willing to say, "It appears to me you are feeling angry and frustrated. Do these words correlate with your experience in any way?" (This has worked well for me for years in my practice as a psychotherapist and doing brain wave optimization.)

Dude, I came up in a very dysfuntional and violent early environment. I left home at 17 & began a rather long, deep journey of psychological and spiritual healing. I am now 63 years old. I do recognize and know the awake presence at the basis of all experience. My moment to moment practice, nowadays, is to simply rest as this open intelligence and allow the habituated data of my samsaric-ly conditioned points of view to appear (be they fear, anger, sadness or shame, etc.) and resolve without engaging, avoiding or trying to replace them; in this way they "flower" and then, self-release.

In truth, over the last 18 months of intensively focusing on returning my attention to the here-and-now presence of open intelligence and allowing everything to be as it already is, I am resting more deeply for longer periods and I am acting from an open-hearted clarity rather than my data more than ever before.

Jez, I sincerely wish you well. Brother-man I am here, with you and in support of you to the best of my ability, as we all awaken out of our conditioned, reified misunderstandings and into the effortless ease of being that we can notice here and its spontaneously altruistic nature.

Bless you more, Jez,


Noa's picture

In answer to your question, Wendy, there are several email providers that claim to protect privacy.  I use gmx.  It has great spam filters, but lately I've had annoying flashy adverts in the sidebar.  Hushmail is another such provider. 

Thunderbird uses encryption which relies on the recipient entering a code to view your message, which is a pain in the butt, but it's probably more secure.

If you Google 'encrypted email' you'll find more.

Wendy's picture

Thanks Noa.

garydgreer's picture

Way to go Wendy. You sure know how to set a ball to rolling.   :>

Noa's picture

Today, one of my coworkers asked me why I used gmx email instead of hotmail, yahoo, etc.  I told him that it was encrypted for privacy.

Another coworker overheard our conversation and asked me, "Are you a conspiracy theorist?"

I should've asked him what he meant by that, but instead I said, "Of course... I don't want to make their job spying on me any easier."

His comments continued with something like, 'do you have something to hide?'

I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but I can't help wondering why so many people put their trust in activities such as government surveillance when it seems so obvious to me that they don't care a rat's tush about the people they govern.   And why must there be something wrong with me for not consenting to it?

Brian's picture

Interesting exchange you had Noa. I would have lied. Being honest about your views can cost you in the workplace.

But are there any facts out there to support the contention that StartPage is NSA? When Google got super hot I began joking that it was actually a brilliant creation of the NSA to dragnet EVERYTHING because you gave it all willingly to Google: Search, email, location, documents, shopping, phone, videos you watched, chats. I've always assumed someone was making a profile of me as an avid user of Google services. I now use an Android phone with GPS  steering content and special services too. They can track me-and see patterns in my movements and create alarms when i break out of geo-fences they automatically erect. Maybe catch me traveling to some protest march or something and stream anti-protest news to me or report me to head-crackers. Well-maybe.

Wendy's picture

Here's a good reason to trust Startpage. Katerine Albrecht (Author of Spychips) works for them and explains why they are trustworthy. (I know, how can we trust Katherine? but I've seen her at many local New England events over the years and her behavior and information has been nothing but helpful)

I need to be more careful about only using startpage. What I find is that even though I use that in place of google I still do searches at other websites, such as You Tube and Allrecipes.com and so I'm still getting ads targeting at my searches.


Yeay, Startpage plans to start StartMail this fall! Startpage will be charging to use Startmail but as they provide such a good free search engine I feel it's worth it. You can sign up now.


Noa's picture

...I'd rather not make their job of surveilling me any easier.

And if the excuse for accepting surveillance is that "I have nothing to hide" why should I hide my disagreement with it?  The conspirators live in the shadows.  The way to beat them at their game is to shine a light on their covert activities, so that people realize that we no longer live in a free society.

But I get your meaning about workplace behavior.  I'm not broadcasting my views, but I'm not going to deny them either.

Brian's picture

if you use firefox browser, install Adblock Plus. I started using a different pc recently and at the same time I heard youtube was suddenly making people watch ads. I thought I was stuck with ads all over the place until I installed adblock plus ( it had been on my old machine)and POOF! they was all gone-magic my friends.

Brian's picture

Sad to say...this formerly very secure service closed because nothing escapes the NSA dragnet. I think this may be a final answer as to whether or not anything is impervious to the system.

Link to report on bbc:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-23768810


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