Here in Australia our Federal Government I think feels that we in general can't be trusted to make decisions about where we look for information on the web. They are introducing at the ISP level a filter that will block sites based on a secret list. That this list will be a secret is where my concern lies with no ability for the community to have any real input in to what is on or off the list. The Government states that the list will only block sites that have Child Pornography, Euthanasia, Terrorism links and such like. But regardless how do we really know and even if the Government we have now can be trusted what about future Governments (and I am not saying our current one can be trusted).

I noted that Google has their encrypted search engine but I feel uncomfortable with the level of data that Google and others retain about search history etc on their servers. Anyway the other day I noticed a news article about a search provider Ixquick that has provided a specific search site and home page for Australians that would bypass the filter and would'nt retain data. The site is http:/ but I also found that they provided an encryted search engine and homepage site. To access the encrypted search and homepage you just change http for https ie https:/ They also provide a way to change the search provider in IE and Firefox by clicking a link in one of their info pages. With their email advice I was also able to change the keyword:URL behaviour in Firefox to use their metasearch engine instead of the default Google engine. The https: search engine allows me to search bypassing the ISP based filter and as the data is encrypted between the startpage and myself my ISP etc can't snoop

I have found that when using startpage the search results are limited in number so my search terms have become more targetted to try and get results I would like to see and filter out the ones that are less likely to interest me. They also now provide a proxy link for each result that allows you to anonymously view the linked page/s. The proxy however won't allow you to enter text on the the linked page and as it filters out a lot of active content the pages don't always show up in the proper format.

According to their site "Of course, Startpage would be obligated to comply with legal demands for information from proper government authorities, but because we have no personal information on file, there would be no data to deliver." they don't retain your IP address (they state since Jan 2009 IP addresses are not recorded at all), and the only cookie they place on your machine is an anonymous one that retains only your search setup preferences such as if using http or https. They advise they make money from advertising link results on each search page but these are easily identified by the different colour they use to highlight them at the top of the page. The company that owns Ixquick and Startpage is a Dutch based company Surfboard Holdings, BV and from what I can find out it all seems to be a legitimate company. In 2009 they received recertification for their privacy policy and I have included a link to the certification authorities page regarding Ixquick

Anyway I hope this helps some others out there and yes the startpage can be used in USA (they have some of their servers located in the US) currently is in english only but I think the parent search engine Ixquick may offer other languages.