[DELISTED] Discussion: StartPage

I thought Jacqueline was with System1. The only email address I have for her is a System1 address. That’s good because I believe you need to be talking with System1 to get a hold of Ian Weingarten.

She is listed as the VP Marketing for Startpage on Startpage.com and on LinkedIn. She is not listed as a System1 employee, I emailed Ian at System1 and she responded on his behalf however.

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When you speak with her, please mention that the Startpagesearch Twitter is still down. Maybe they have a new Twitter account? You mentioned Startpagesearch could be nabbed by anyone, which is very odd.

I’d also like to see your list of questions if you have one.

I received an email from both Ian Weitgarten and Startpage CEO Robert Beens.

Regarding Privacy One Group, Mr Weitgarten stated:

…I can confirm that this is a separate entity of System1 that is focused on privacy. We believe the time for internet privacy is now, which is why privacy-focused tools are such an important area for investment.

He also states that privacy-related decisions remain in control of Startpage:

We invested in Startpage largely because of its strong leadership and proven success. As a private business, we don’t disclose specific financial details; however, we can confirm that we made a significant investment and we trust Robert and his team’s clear vision to bring privacy to more people.

For the last 13 years, Startpage has been trusted by privacy-conscious users. As part of our investment in Startpage, we have provided that Robert and his team will continue to control privacy-related decisions and will remain headquartered in the Netherlands. We know both of these issues are important to Startpage users around the world.

Notably, he would not disclose financial details, such as what percentage of Startpage.com Privacy One Group actually controls.

Startpage CEO Mr Beens expanded on their reasoning behind accepting an investment from Privacy One Group:

System1 is a consumer internet company with a lot of search engine experience. At the same time they understand that the world is changing and that privacy friendly alternatives like Startpage are needed. They see an important future for privacy, and have set up a new and separate company called Privacy One Group, where they want to assemble new privacy and security initiatives. Their investment in Startpage will provide additional funds and resources (especially marketing expertise and connections) to create more traction for our product, especially in the US. The investment from Privacy One Group does not change our mission – to bring true search privacy to more people - it will help us to further it.

He also reiterated Weitgarten’s statement regarding who is in control of privacy-related decisions and personal data:

To ensure this, the investment includes covenants that ensure complete control over all privacy-related decisions remains with Startpage and its management team.

I asked them to elaborate on their original press release which mentioned expanded product offerings:

When we mention 'more comprehensive product offerings and improved user experiences’ in our blog, this strictly relates to opportunities to offer expansions of our privacy offering, like ‘private news’, 'private maps’ etc. System1 has access to maps and news feeds that we want to offer in a fully anonymous way to our users. True technical privacy does take time to implement correctly though, so this is more something for 2020. To be clear, neither System1 nor Privacy One Group can access any personal or privacy related information from our users.

Regarding future plans for Startpage, Mr Beens stated:

Future:
Having a new shareholder in the company will not change any aspect of the privacy we offer. We are a Dutch company and will continue to be so. Fully complying with Dutch and EU privacy regulations (GDPR). We don’t store or share any personal data. No change either. Our clear privacy policy will stay the same. Management / founders (including myself) continue to have an important stake in the company and will continue to be fully committed to our privacy mission!

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But what is Privacy One Group Ltd? I haven’t been able to find it anywhere in the public records – except for a British Virgin Island reference that is probably not related. The term “Ltd.” suggests it is a limited liability corporation. Or is it just a name for a division? Or?

I’m guessing they will be posting answers to redditor questions like that at the reddit threads. Maybe at r/startpagesearch. It’s probably easier to do it there.

Did they say they would be doing that, Jonah?

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They seem to be at r/startpagesearch answering questions now, live, for just a little while.

https://www.reddit.com/r/StartpageSearch/comments/djshn3/hello_reddit_startpage_mod_team/

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Whether it’s an actual separate company or just a division will be crucial to “evaluating” the recent change in ownership at Startpage.

If it’s a division within System1, IMO, that means Startpage is suspect. If it’s a separate company and System1 can provide some legal backing around their statements ("…includes covenants that ensure complete control…"), I would consider giving Startpage the benefit of the doubt.

I see your point, but even a separate company could share data etc. Trust is still needed, backed up with an in-depth independent audit after an investment like this. Privacy savvy consumers naturally demand a higher level of proof given the nature of System1’s business.

For example, some security products associated with the co-founder of System1 have been panned for not giving any real privacy. See this review by Douglas Crawford of proprivacy. Crawford rated the antivirus, VPN etc only 2 out of 10 stars and commented on the lack of privacy. Here’s an excerpt from his review:

Privacy

PCProtect collects a huge amount of personal information from its users – too much to detail here. This information will be shared with third-party service providers (to the extent permitted by applicable data protection laws), partners, and sponsors.

Credit where it is due, however: the “privacy” policy does clearly explain that you have no privacy when using this product.

The bigger point might be the representation being made about a separate company. Why would it be presented as a LTD company if it’s not? If it is a company, then they should be able to point to where and when it was incorporated (country, state etc. I would want proof it was there before any investment was made and not added after the fact in panic.) I’m thinking it must be a separate company because I’ve known the Startpage side of the equation to be trustworthy in past experience.

If I were System1 owner, I would make and sell StartProducts (Search, Mail, VPN, Storage…) to customers who are using my other privacyless products. It’s like selling poison and antidote :slight_smile:

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The review is quite damning. “American-style” bait and switch pricing tactics, ridiculous prices, atrocious privacy policies (although these might have changed since the review was posted).

Not to mention that there is no good reason to pay for an anti-virus if you use Windows in a home environment.

Maybe we should ask for search index of the old Ixquick.

I have a specific issue with Startpage. It more often than not links me irrelevant results.

Lets say I’m wanting to search for finding out which classes I needed to learn to be able to understand robotics courses.

The main search results were either Study.com ( they might as well say Quora or Yahoo answers), or something sponcered by Microsoft. Going down the rabbithole further, I find more of the courses on the microsoft one are … surprise, sponcered by Microsoft!

I could go on a big rant about that, but the point is my search engine should not be indexing anything related to Microsoft. I do not intend to reinstall Microsoft just so I can learn an essential class for robotics.

I’m not sure why Startpage does that.

So I prefer Yacy, because I can index sources I’m really wanting.

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Something has shown up in a Delaware company search today as Privacy One Group Limited (with the “Limited” spelled out). Is this the company Startpage is referencing? It shows as being incorporated 12/10/2018.

If so, is it wholly owned by System1? Is it registered to operate in any particular U.S. State?

If not wholly owned by System1, what % of it is owned by System1?

What % of Surfboard Holding B.V. (Dutch holding company for Startpage) was purchased by System1 directly or through Privacy One Group in December 2018? What % does it own as of today?

Edit: I’m going back to update some things as new information is shared. Note that Startpage has confirmed that Privacy One Group Limited was registered in Delaware. This must be it.

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Based on the Reddit AMA/responses from System1, I am not very confident it’s safe to use SP anymore.

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it makes me sad.
We live in a f***** capitalist world

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I’m curious, and want to learn. As I have read here at PTIO, Windows (10) is in a nutshell, designed to *SMRC. While Win Defender may protect users from a virus, who is protecting Win 10 renters from Microsoft? Isn’t using Win 10 like stepping into a glass shower inside a house made of glass?

Who protects us from the protectors?

Windows 10 ☛

~o~
*SMRC = Stalk, Monitor, Record and Control.

3 posts were merged into an existing topic: Delisting Startpage.com

Closing this discussion to reflect that this is no longer a recommended service. Discussions regarding their delisting should take place at:

Future discussions recommending Startpage’s re-listing should be created as a separate thread.