Startpage replies to questions about ownership change

Startpage, a popular privacy focused search engine that operates out of the Netherlands, published a new FAQ on its websites in which several answers are provided regarding the change of ownership that took place recently.

Privacy One Group Ltd acquired a stake in the company which is owned by the advertising company System1. System1 states that it uses “technology to make advertising better and safer, while respecting consumer privacy”.

The change raised fears and questions, especially since Startpage or System1/Privacy One Group Ltd provided little information about specifics off the deal. We asked important questions here. and others have done the same.

startpage system1 privacy one group

Startpage published an article on its site recently that attempts to answer some of these questions and reassure users of the service that the deal has no privacy implications.

Here are the main revelations of the article:

  • Startpage remains headquartered in the Netherlands/EU and the Startpage founders will continue to run the company.
  • Startpage founders have “control over all Startpage privacy implementations”. The company notes that “the Startpage founders may unilaterally reject any potential technical change that could negatively affect user privacy” and that “notice must be given to end users for any privacy-related change”.
  • Startpage user IP addresses are not shared “with any party”.
  • The way advertisement is served has not changed.
  • System1 owns a majority stake in Startpage.
  • System1’s “businesses generally do not involve building or maintaining user profiles and little user information is processed or stored within System1”.
  • Privacy One Group Limited is a Delaware registered company.

To summarize: Startpage states hat nothing has changed in regards to how the service operates in regards to user privacy.

The publication leads to another question: why has System1 / Privacy One Group Limited made an investment in Startpage? What is the motivation behind it?

Startpage attempts to answer that question as well by providing a statement of the Chairman Michael Blend and the CEO Ian Weingarten of System1.

In it, the company representatives state that the investment was made ” because we believe Startpage serves a critical role in maintaining consumer privacy, and we hope our resources can help Startpage bring privacy to millions of new users around the world”.

Closing Words

The whole situation could have been avoided if Startpage would have been transparent about the deal. The publication reveals critical information about the deal and should reassure some users. Others may require additional information or clarification, e.g. whether data is shared with Privacy One Group Limited or System1.

Now You: What is your take on the development?

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