Bonum Certa Men Certa

'Dutch' Startpage Gets a Lot of Traffic Channeled Through/From Small Shop (“Google Premier Partner”) in Scotland

Startpage and inspire.scot



Summary: An ongoing attempt to better understand supposedly privacy-centric search engines and how they make money

FOLLOWING some recent investigations into privacy betrayals by so-called 'private' search engines that track clicks we've been getting useful feedback and pointers. I myself used to rely on a lot of Scroogle (until Google shut it down by deprecating APIs/access). Then I moved mostly to Ixquick, which later forced a redirection to Startpage. I stopped using that when they mysteriously added lots of JavaScript and awkward stuff which not only rendered the site inaccessible from my browser but raised all sorts of other concerns/questions. Prior to that I had already pointed out -- and confronted over -- several issues associated with Startpage's actions, both technical and operational. I explored alternatives and later used these permanently.

I spent about half a decade promoting Startpage (or Ixquick). Perhaps at the start they were well-meaning and they likely lacked a business model. Perhaps. If that new/later business model gravitated towards/around spying, then users deserve to know. They need to know. Startpage is not a charity or a public service.



We don't typically write about privacy and search engines (this isn't our focus, but sometimes that relates to Microsoft entryism). We do, however, receive some valuable pointers and the more we cover it, the deeper we go. "Maybe you could help explain this," one reader said, referring to the observation (see above screenshot from this page). "Startpage traffic channel source situation: http://inspire.scot 80.7%..."

The reader continued: "Why would over 80% of traffic to Startpage be channelled from http://inspire.scot, a web design and SEO/traffic company? Are there privacy implications in that?

"I understand why Ixquick would send over 20% -- maybe redirects since Ixquick sends users to Startpage now that they've merged into Startpage. DuckDuckGo has a Startpage "bang" !s or !sp that would send traffic to Startpage. That makes sense. Of course, the %'s add up to over 100%. Maybe it's very wrong, but I still don't understand why any 3rd party % would be significant. Thanks for any insights."

Our research skills may not be any better than this reader's, but the subject was nonetheless brought up in our IRC channels. They formally call themselves "Inspire IT Services" and the footer says "A Scottish Web Services Company" (very vague or too broad). Under "Search Engine Optimisation" (SEO) they have a section entitled "PPC (Pay per Click)" and it says in large fonts -- the headline -- "Are you getting an ROI from PPC? As a Google Premier Partner we can be trusted to get it right!"

So they're a "Google Premier Partner"; there's also an image there that says "Premier Google Partner" and above that it says: "Contact us today to find out more about our Google Premier Partnership and for more information about working with you on your Pay per Click Campaigns". Perhaps not unexpectedly, the site is bloated and every page there spies on the visitor on Google's behalf ("google-analytics.com/ga.js").

Why would a close partner of Google drive this much traffic to a site that claims to compete against Google? That's a bit of an open question. The company is based in Perth, not too far from the Scottish capital, and it has been around for over a decade (incorporated in 2008). It lists 4 officers / 2 resignations, David and Maxine Dwyer as the principal ones (Director and Secretary, maybe spouses), plus a Martin Smith (very common name). He resigned 6 years ago. Their latest balance sheet can be found here (not much in there in terms of money). But it's better than past years. How can such a small shop -- perhaps a "mom and pop" store -- be commanding so much traffic (if the figures presented above are true)? That itself may be a mystery worth exploring further.

Recent Techrights' Posts

This Week Fedora Celebrates Diversity, But It is Pushing Proprietary Software and Censorship
IBM openwashing, perception management, and reputation laundering gone awry?
EU 'Chat Control' Law is Already Discrediting the Stated Goals of GDPR
Equip kids with always-on always-connected microphones and double-sided cameras, just to be safe...
 
Gemini Links 20/06/2024: Golden Ticket and Looking for Web 1.0 Communities
Links for the day
Not Even TRYING to Compete With Microsoft
CMA (UK) ought to step in and investigate why Canonical (UK) refuses to even compete
Poul-Henning Kamp: Why Freedom in 'FOSS' Matters
Openwashing is more widely recognised as a growing problem
[Meme] EU Chat Control: The Problem is Too Much Privacy???
So what's with GDPR then? The EU is contradicting itself!
Lithuania: GNU/Linux Usage Climbs to Highest Level in Years
consistent abandonment of Microsoft
"Remarkably Little Had Changed."
Black or African American not even mentioned
Rumours That Nat Friedman (CEO) Was 'Fired' by GitHub/Microsoft
"Microsoft Refused to Fix Flaw Years Before SolarWinds Hack"
linuxsecurity.com: A Step in a Positive Direction
We hope that Guardian Digital and linuxsecurity.com will rectify the matter and persist with real articles
Links 20/06/2024: Somali Piracy Surges, Juneteenth Discussed
Links for the day
Gemini Links 20/06/2024: Gemini is 5 Today (Still No Gemlog Entry From its Founder)
Links for the day
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, June 19, 2024
IRC logs for Wednesday, June 19, 2024
Morocco: GNU/Linux Surges From 0.1% to 4.21%
Microsoft has mass layoffs in Africa these days
[Meme] EU Chat Control II
Stuff like "Chat Control" means that GDPR will lose credibility and the true motives be rightly scrutinised/questioned
You're Only Proving Our Point, Sir
clearly obsessed with what we write
Just Because It Happened Over 20 Years Ago Doesn't Mean It's "Old News" or Stopped Happening
This strategy merely evolved
Thanking Solderpunk for 5 Years of Gemini Protocol
Long live Gemini Protocol and long live Solderpunk!
[Meme] He Who Controls the Boot
And licks the Microsoft boot
[Meme] systemd-recovery
Imagine "Linux" (Poetterix) becoming so unreliable that it needs factory resets
Almost Every Day This Month the GNU/Linux "Market Share" Grows in statCounter
Advocates like to see progress
Dawg, I Herd You Like Freedom
In the context of Software Freedom, little is ever said about free speech
Links 19/06/2024: Microsoft Faces Big Backlash, Bytedance Referred to US Department of Justice
Links for the day
Gemini Protocol Turns 5 in 15 Hours
Geminispace is still very much alive
OSI's Blog is Still 100% "AI" Nonsense Sponsored by Microsoft (the Authors Are Also Salaried by Microsoft)
The founder of the OSI no longer supports the OSI
Poland is Another Country Where Bing Lost a Lot of Market Share Since the LLM Gimmicks
down from 3.24% to 2.4%
Jean-Pierre Giraud, Possible Forgeries & Debian: elections, judgments, trademark already canceled, archaeologist
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
It Took Microsoft More Than 3 Years to Get a Quarter of Windows Users to 'Upgrade' to Vista 11 (3 Out of 4 Windows Users Still Reject It)
That is exactly what's happening right now
[Meme] The Empire
Don't be like Putin
They Want 'Transparency' Only for the General Public (Every Bit of Communication Available to the Government, Usually Via Corporations)
The EU might decide to effectively ban SSH
Justices Jeremy Johnson and Victoria Sharp to Decide the Fate of Julian Assange in About Three Weeks
Will he be back home in Australia by year's end?
Free Software Won't Fix Equality, But It Helps
Let's examine Free software in the context of: 1) money. 2) justice.
Treating Them as Teammates, Not as Political Props, Trophies, or Objects
Most of the world's people are women
Links 19/06/2024: SFTP and Gopher Milestone
Links for the day
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, June 18, 2024
IRC logs for Tuesday, June 18, 2024
US Surgeon General's Advice on Social Control Media (and "Smart" Phones) Seems Reasonable
People forget what the real world is about
Quiet at Planet Debian
planet.debian.org has not had any updates since 5 days ago
Belarus: Bing Fell From 1.1% to 0.6% Since Microsoft Started the LLM Hype (Yandex is 50 Times Bigger Than Bing)
Now enter Belarus
Morale at Microsoft Sinks to New Lows
The annual 'Employee Signals' survey showed a drop from 69% to 62% in positive responses
Microsoft Windows is Being Abandoned in the UK, Relative to Other Platforms (New All-Time Lows)
Windows at new lows
Links 18/06/2024: More Executives Leave Microsoft, Attacks on the Press in Russia and 'Exile'
Links for the day
[Meme] Always Livecasting
Wait Till Systemd-Recall
Australia: Bing Lost Market Share Since the LLM Hype ("Bing Chat")
Google rose, Bing went down
Gemini Links 18/06/2024: Unconscious Consumption and Firewall Autoban
Links for the day
[Meme] Canonical Has Basically Become Novell II
Today's Canonical...
While Everyone is Furious at Vista 11 (Over TPM, Recall and Other Malicious 'Features') Canonical is Selling It to People
So the only thing Canonical says about Windows is that you should give it a try?
Links 18/06/2024: Adobe and Internet Archive in Trouble
Links for the day
Peter Duffy Explains SystemD
Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Führer!
[Meme] The Doyen and the Colonel
EPO continues to prioritise lawbreaking over knowledge
EPO Union Action: Next Week SUEPO The Hague and SUEPO Munich Talk About New Pension Scheme (NPS) and Salary Savings Plan (SSP)
So there are basically 32 days left for more people to intervene
[Meme] Wait Till Systemd-Recall
The only thing Linux still needs is a forensics backdoor
GNU/Linux Up This Month in India (or Why Famous Criminal Bill Gates Keeps Visiting Modi)
truth tends to catch up with people
Microsoft Poetterix is Work in Progress
Linux's New DRM Panic 'Blue Screen of Death' In Action
24/7 Work Discipline
it's not so much about how much (or how long) one works, it's about how one works and whether one feels comfortable doing it
Adamant Conformism is an Enemy of Science
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man"
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Monday, June 17, 2024
IRC logs for Monday, June 17, 2024
Links 18/06/2024: Further Mass Layoffs and Gemini Leftovers
Links for the day
At IBM, "Brownnosing is the Norm."
Many of these comments are from IBM insiders
Myanmar/Burma: Google Gains One Percent, Microsoft Loses One Percent Since the LLM Hype ('Bing Chat')
it's not hard to understand LLMs didn't replace real search and didn't replace Google, either
[Meme] KISS, not SAAS
Gemini Protocol turns 5 in exactly 2 days
Hostageware: The Threat of Clown Computing (or 'SaaS', Another Misnomer or Buzzword) to Computer Users Everywhere
This problem isn't limited to Free software adopters