Anonymity has benefits beyond avoiding marketers
Technology blogger and activist Lenin Peña is advising fellow citizens to use privacy services to overcome government Internet restrictions in Venezuela.
Recently, he and other Internet watchdogs like AccessNow and Netblocks.org have noted intermittent blocking of social media sites and search engines like Google and Bing by Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro. This blocking happens when there are calls for peaceful citizen protests against his rule. Since the government owns the main Internet Service Provider (ISP), Maduro can manipulate access.
Startpage.com delivers Google results in privacy and does not log or share user personal information. DuckDuckGo serves mainly Yahoo/Bing results and also respects user privacy.
But Startpage.com has been particularly handy, according to Peña, because of its Anonymous View option that can do the work of a VPN in a pinch, while keeping his Internet surfing hidden from the government ISP and the websites he visits. (He says some VPNs have been permanently blocked along with some anti-Maduro websites.)
Here’s the video Peña created and posted to show others how he uses the Startpage.com Anonymous View feature to access online information:
Once users search in privacy with Startpage, they can use the Anonymous View feature to visit the websites anonymously. Peña told me via private message:
For me… it helps to access blocked websites without the need of having to use an additional VPN, and, of course, outside the subject of blocking in Venezuela, Startpage helps me to protect my privacy.
Privacy is also important since a dictator like Maduro wouldn’t take kindly to a citizen accessing restricted information and informing others how to do the same.
Privacy search engines are useful for keeping sensitive search queries out of the hands of marketers, who use them to target advertising. But it turns out they can also help keep the Internet “on” and citizens protected from their governments in times of political strife and censorship.