back to article Ooh, watch out Google. You've got competition. Verizon has a new 'privacy-focused' search engine

Verizon has slung out a new, privacy-focused search engine in an effort to win over customers who prefer not to have their browsing habits tracked by ad-slingers and the like. For years, the company has been trying to diversify its market from selling hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of wireless and wired comms, towards …

  1. Christopher Reeve's Horse

    I think they've somewhat missed 'opportunistic' and gone straight for 'dead on arrival'. Again.

    If you're already worried about search privacy you're likely already on DuckDuckGo or StartPage, and if you're only just getting worried about search privacy why on earth would you go there? Personally, I ask Alexa to Bing results on Android, just to piss Google off.

    1. GnuTzu
      Thumb Up

      And, don't forget, DuckDuckGo has is own anti-tracking add-on, which I use alongside Ghostery, EEF Privacy Badger, No-Script, and a UTM stripper. And, the UTM stripper is important, because there are just so many sites wanting to optimize their Google ranking that they just can't help giving Google everything it wants.

    2. Khaptain Silver badge

      Caring about privacy and using Alexa : Ironic .....

    3. Recluse

      Startpage tarnished ?

      Worried about your privacy ? there are suggestions that Startpage is no longer "clean ... sort of gamekeeper turned poacher.

      "Recently there has been lots of talk about Startpage being acquired (or at least partially acquired) by a US company called Privacy One Group, which is a division of System1, a “data science” company that specializes in targeted advertising"

      More here

      https://restoreprivacy.com/startpage-system1-privacy-one-group/ and here https://blog.privacytools.io/delisting-startpage/

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Startpage tarnished ?

        Yes, that looks really, really bad.

        And since we can't really know what, if any, tracking Startpage is/will be doing, that appearance is plenty enough to get me to avoid using or recommending it.

      2. Rich 2 Silver badge

        Re: Startpage tarnished ?

        Oh now that hacks me off. I like Startpage and have used it for ages. Arrrrggghhhhhh.....

  2. Dinanziame Silver badge

    Honestly, Verizon has such a toxic image that a start-up would have a better chance to build a successful product.

    1. GnuTzu
      Thumb Up

      Initially, yes. But, anything that grows large enough to have its CEO replaced by some soulless Wall Street type, as had happened to Google, will likely end up just as soulless. Surely, Verizon has one of those Wall Street types too. Their makeover is just can't be all that trustworthy.

    2. Corporate Scum

      Better chance as a startup

      I think the idea might have been that if Verizon was going to start up a privacy focused search engine the project might have had a better chance if it was charted as an independent entity, with some autonomy from Verizon's [Toxic] leadership.

      I agree that, as is, the project is DOA and a money pit if they try to make it succeed.

      I suspect this is a marketing exercise to do damage control for the _INTENSELY_ shady surveillance they are already doing on their customers( including mass hijacking ssl traffic and executing a man in the middle attack on mobile web requests).

      They don't need the data from their search engine, they alreay sniff your traffic, and in most cases own the customer/victim's DNS. So they already see everything they want from the search engine traffic, and will continue to do so in the future.

      Sorry for all the people who work on the project that don't realize they are on the Kobayashi Maru. I expect in time all of the red shirts on Project Deathspiral will find their marching orders have already been marked EXPENDABLE.

    3. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      This feels like a cynical ploy by Verizon to be able to harvest user data directly, based on the idea that growing blowback from consumers over Google's tracking activities will cause those consumers to seek alternatives.

      I wonder if they think could redirect search queries by their customers through their own search tools. Can't do it if you don't have the tools in the first place. With the tools in place, see how long you can get away with it before people complain, then ignore them anyway until the antitrust lawsuits begin.

  3. fidodogbreath Silver badge

    "Private" not private

    According to Ars Technica, Verizon saves your deets and sends them to Bing (but they promise to delete them some day, honest):

    1. Your IP address, search query, and user agent are transferred over HTTPS to Verizon servers. The user agent generally includes data about the browser, operating system, and type of device and app you're using to make the search.

    2. Verizon derives your city-level location data from your IP address and then sends your IP address, user agent, search query, and location data to Microsoft's Bing "so that the actual search request can be made through their search engine."

    3. Bing provides the search results to Verizon, and then Verizon's automated process "work[s] with our Search Partners to provide you with contextual advertisements and/or search results." Verizon describes the "search partners" vaguely as "certain companies providing search result optimization input" and says they "are not provided with your personal data."

    4. Verizon will store your IP address for four days "for the purpose of network traffic protection" and then permanently delete the IP address.

    5. Bing will continue to store the IP address, search query, and user agent, also for network traffic protection. After four days, Bing "obfuscates the IP address."

    1. GnuTzu
      Devil

      Re: "Private" not private

      Verizon and Microsoft sitting in a tree, K I S S... Or, is it more disgusting than that? Certain South Park episodes are coming to mind.

    2. Rich 2 Silver badge

      Re: "Private" not private

      Ah. That explains the description;-

      “A new "Advanced Privacy Mode" will encrypt search terms and URLs against third-party tracking”

      I wondered how that was going to work without a man-in-the-middle (ie Verizon) intercepting all your web traffic. Obviously they wouldn’t abuse that situation at all. Sounds like AOL all over again. Remember them? Why would ANYONE go for this. Even if they were REALLY REALLY stupid?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why would ANYONE go for this. Even if they were REALLY REALLY stupid?

        in short, YES. Don't ask me why, though. Don't ask me why millions of people install hundreds of apps on their mobiles, just because they are there, and why milions of people sign up to facebook an tweeter, just because they are there, etc. Yes, for people who care a tiny bit about their privacy, verizon idea is laughable, yet for a solid number (milions?) of click-and-forgets, it's a GREAT idea for them, because Verizon TOLD THEM it's about privacy, and they recently heard this word once or twice so it must be true. Click.

  4. 's water music
    Coffee/keyboard

    It has also been trying to shift its image from a stodgy, boring broadband provider to a hip, kombucha-drinking, new media giant. Three years ago, it bought Yahoo! and two years before that, AOL, in a ham-fisted effort to woo millennials away from Facebook and Google

    This happened three or four times whilst reading that ^ paragraph ---------------------->

    I'm still suspicious that Verizon might be an art student's piece of performance art

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    irony or sarcasm?

    The move highlights that companies are beginning to take privacy seriously.

    1. vir

      Re: irony or sarcasm?

      Take it seriously as a new advertising buzzword:

      Give us exclusive access to your search terms = privacy

      Only trust us to know your location = privacy

      Only allow us to provide targeted ads = privacy

      Of course, they'll take your privacy "seriously" when there's a data breach, or it turns out they never actually delete your information, or someone reveals that they're just managed to insert themselves into the ever-growing ecosystem of parasites, bottom-feeders, and hucksters who make up the web advertising business.

    2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: irony or sarcasm?

      Or they are getting scared of the GPDR fines perhaps.

  6. grizewald

    "Microsoft" and "privacy" in the same sentence? Shurely shome mishtake?

    I really can't see what those two words are doing in the same sentence. Did Microsoft push a Windows 10 update which removes all the telemetry, advertising and other personal data slurping code from their OS?

    No, I thought not.

  7. JohnFen Silver badge
    Stop

    Nope

    I trust Verizon to maintain privacy (or even define it properly) as much as I trust Google to do the same -- which is not at all.

    1. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: Nope

      OK, OK -- They maybe made a few mistakes back when they were kids. But they've changed their errant ways. You know that because they tell you so. Don't you folks believe in rehabilitation?

  8. katrinab Silver badge
    Unhappy

    I! thought! they! already! owned! a!search! engine!?

    called Yahoo!

    If you visit, it will ask you to accept cookies, and if you try to decline, it will send you in circles round a load of pages to try to get you to change your mind.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I! thought! they! already! owned! a!search! engine!?

      Thanks, I was worried that it was just me that simply could not find any place in Yahoo! to change cookie settings: as you say, it sends you round in circles with ever more verbose information about cookies and "privacy", but has seemingly absolutely nowhere where you can actually change any settings.

      Dear ICO and other GDPR enforcers: please have a word with Yahoo, as they are clearly breaching the law.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    a long string of failures

    in other circumstances, one would be inclined to suspect those failures serve a long-term purpose, such as money laundering. But here... would it be just a long, coincidental string of unfortunate circumstances? ;)

    1. Corporate Scum

      Re: a long string of failures

      Not coincidental, no.

      Why resort to conspiracy or misfortune to explain what is clearly attributable to human fallibility?

      Verizon's leadership is predatory, arrogant, and incompetent.

      That's all the explanation that is needed, and unless that problem is fixed all other solutions can still fail.

  10. stiine Silver badge
    FAIL

    Ha

    This is the same Verizon that added cookies to mobile web browser traffic.

  11. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    Missing a comma

    "The move highlights that companies are beginning to take privacy, seriously."

    FIFY

  12. Chris G Silver badge

    Scorpion, meet frog

    Verizon's relationship with it's customers.

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