Startpage is a search engine designed to protect the privacy of the user and is based in the Netherlands. The company added a new section to the FAQ on its website answers the questions asked about the recent ownership change.
Privacy One Group Ltd, which acquired a stake in the company, belongs to the advertising agency System1. System1 describes itself as a company that uses "technology to make advertising better and safer while respecting consumer privacy".
The change raised many questions, as Startpage and System1 / Privacy One Group Ltd did not provide much explanation for the details of the deal.
Startpage published recently an article on her website, which attempts to answer some of these questions. The purpose of the publication is to reassure service users that the agreement will not affect consumer privacy:
- The Startpage base remains in the Netherlands / EU and the Startpage founders will continue to manage the company.
- The founders of Startpage continue to have “control all privacy applications“. The company states that "the founders of Startpage may unilaterally reject any technical changes that may adversely affect users' privacy" and that "end users should be notified of any privacy-related changes"
- User IP addresses will not be shared "by any means".
- The way ads are displayed has not changed.
- System1 holds a majority stake in Startpage.
- System1 "businesses" generally do not create or maintain user profiles and store or process minimal user information.
- Privacy One Group Ltd is a company registered in Delaware.
But this post raises another question: why did System1 / Privacy One Group Limited invest in Startpage? What is the motive of the advertising company?
Startpage also attempts to answer this question by providing a statement from President Michael Blend and CEO Ian Weingarten of System1.
According to company representatives, the investment was:
… Because we believe Startpage plays a critical role in protecting the privacy of consumers, and we hope that our resources will help Startpage bring privacy to millions of new users around the world.
The deal, however, as we mentioned yesterday, was not made public, or to put it better, only part of it was made public. System1 not appeared from the beginning, and of course the explanations given by all parties do not seem to be convincing.