How are you and your Family doing in these COVID-19 Times?
Robert, E.G. Beens: We are privileged to live in the country-side, which has allowed us to walk around the garden, and enjoy family life together without much too stress during the lockdown. Also working from home has proved to be fairly easy for us as a tech company.
Tell us about you, your Career and how you founded Startpage
Robert, E.G. Beens: In 2005, I was conducting a legal audit and discovered how much (personal) data we stored. Knowing someone’s searches can be extremely telling; you can learn people’s hopes, fears and fantasies. You can also uncover very sensitive and personal information such as someone’s medical or financial history. Understanding and realizing the terrible privacy implications of being able to tie all of someone’s searches together, we decided to drastically alter how we stored data. That’s why we started Startpage in 2006. We believe the right to privacy is a fundamental civil right, worth defending.
Our determination to offer our users the best possible privacy search engine has been our passion ever since. We understood from the beginning that it wasn’t worth competing with Google when it comes to online search. So, we pay them to use their brilliant search results but remove all trackers and logs. The result: The world’s best and most private search engine. When I’m not striving to protect users’ privacy, I’m also a pilot for renowned commercial airline KLM.
How does Startpage innovate?
Robert, E.G. Beens: We’ve always been a privacy leader. We were the first to implement secure HTTPS, TLS and PFS. Startpage was also the first search engine to develop and use contextual advertising, instead of deploying behavioral advertising, which has gained notoriety as a creepy way to follow users around the web. We are made up of a global team of top-notch engineers who regularly update our technology as well as are focused on innovating new privacy features. Most recently, we introduced a small but important feature on our site, allowing users to calculate privately.
Startpage’s new calculator feature represents a small, but meaningful step towards more privacy-focused solutions and tools for internet users looking for an alternative to data collecting Big Tech search engines. It’s just one example of how we keep users data private. One of our original features, the unique ‘Anonymous View’ is another innovative solution the team and I are proud of. Clicking search results means leaving the protection of Startpage.com. This could lead to a barrage of cookies being installed on your device. That’s why we developed the “Anonymous View” feature.
With “Anonymous View” you can visit search results in full privacy, and keep on browsing: They’ll never know you were there. You’ll find the feature next to every search result. We want to be an easy alternative. Startpage believes that privacy is a fundamental right, not a luxury, nor something that users should have to opt into.
How the Coronavirus Pandemic affects your Business and how are you coping?
Robert, E.G. Beens: Besides moving all of our operations virtually, we haven’t seen any negative impact on our business and day to day operations. The team, which is composed of privacy evangelists all around the world, is still focusing on our number one priority:- delivering solutions that allow our users to remain anonymous while searching the web and keeping their data private.
Did you have to make Difficult Choices, and what are the Lessons Learned?
Robert, E.G. Beens: Well, you have to be willing to ask yourself tough questions once every while. As a purpose-driven business, it is very important to always stay true to your principles. Protecting people’s privacy (including my own) has been our mission since 2006. Do what you believe is right, not what everyone else is doing. We have regular team discussions on the essentials of privacy, and its technical ramifications within our product. That brings seemingly difficult choices back to fairly easy decisions.
How do you deal with Stress and Anxiety? How do you project yourself and Startpage in the Future?
Robert, E.G. Beens: I like working in our garden a lot. Nature has healing and stress-reducing effect on human beings. Because more and more people are becoming aware of the need to protect their privacy, our company is well-positioned as the thought-leader in a ‘growth-market’. Working hard and staying true to our privacy principles and always trying to do what is best for our customers will ensure a healthy future for the company.
Who are your Competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the Game?
Robert, E.G. Beens: We consider unawareness and indifference about online privacy dangers as our biggest enemy.
There are other privacy search engines out there that followed out suit. We try to lead by offering true technical privacy in an innovative and user-friendly search product.
Your Final Thoughts
Robert, E.G. Beens: At Startpage, we are always looking for the best possible technical solutions to guarantee your privacy. We develop with ‘Privacy by design’, where privacy is the starting point and core of our technology, not just an afterthought. We are operating our own servers and are using the latest technologies to ensure optimal security and privacy. We don’t store or share any of your personal data.
Most importantly, we have no idea who or where you are, so you’re never being profiled and receive the exact same unbiased search results as anyone else in the world. Furthermore, we protect you from the more widely publicized threats such as price trackers (that give some people higher prices on products), identity theft and personal data blackmail.
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