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DuckDuckGo enjoys steep rise in searches thanks to Snowden, iOS

You may not know much about DuckDuckGo — the small independent rival to Google as your search engine of choice — but the site is exploding in popularity in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations about online surveillance and tracking. Fast Company reports that daily search queries have risen 600 percent in the last two years.

Since its 2008 launch the search engine has always promoted the fact that it doesn’t track the browsing or searching patterns of its users, but it seems people are finally taking note, especially post-Snowden: The site is now serving some 9 million queries every day. That’s still a small slice of the overall market (Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo make up more than 90 percent), but the needle is shifting.

Related: New NSA report shows the huge number of non-targeted users caught in its net

It’s not just changing attitudes toward data privacy that are helping to boost DuckDuckGo’s traffic numbers. Last year Apple introduced the option to switch to DuckDuckGo in both OS X and iOS, and CEO Gabriel Weinberg says the tweak has helped to boost his site’s fortunes further.

“People are finally becoming aware of all the downsides of online tracking, including surveillance, ads following you around the Internet, and being charged different prices based on your profile,” Weinberg explained to Fast Company. “If you can get both a great experience and privacy at the same time, then it’s really a no-brainer to switch to a private alternative and prevent yourself from being tracked.”

DuckDuckGo doesn’t keep any record of search queries or IP addresses. Like Google, it can handle searches for news, images, audio, and video, and there’s an integrated Instant Answer option. You can also change the look of the site through a small selection of themes. Google may not be worried yet, but there’s no doubt that DuckDuckGo is enjoying a rapid rise in popularity.