Friday, March 13, 2009

Review of India's Most Important New Startup

"The power of private information online is so great that the commercial incentive for companies or individuals to misuse it is huge"

Tim Berners-Lee

Anyone who has read my blog knows that I believe online freedom and personal data privacy are issues of fundamental importance to our future.

Indeed, I firmly believe that as IP networks become the de facto standard for all forms of global communications, the rights and freedoms we have online will become just as important (if not more important) than the rights and freedoms we have offline.

Unfortunately, as Tim Berners-Lee and other have pointed out, this freedom is under threat from all sides. The fact of the matter is that personal information is valuable, and as a result, companies will always have an incentive to abuse and exploit their users' trust and personal details for financial gain.

Which brings me to Yauba ( Yauba is a search engine that makes privacy the very bedrock of its service. Indeed, its privacy policy is literally 9 words long:

We do not keep any personally identifiable information.

All that is nice and good. But here is the kicker, however. Not only are all searches on Yauba conducted on a safe and secure basis, but also all visits to third party websites are conducted on an anonymous basis as well. Basically Yauba acts as a anonymous proxy to sites that come up on their search results.

This is huge, and this is something that I have seen on no other search engine. Anywhere.

Why This Matters

Imagine that you have a relative in Chicago who is worried about breast cancer. She feels a strange lump in her left breast, and this scares her to death. But not only is she scared about the possibility of her having breast cancer, but she is also frightened about what would happen if her employer suspected she may be sick or whether her medical insurance company may try to deny her coverage for one of the many technicalities that they use.

For a person like her, the information available on the Internet can be truly valuable, even life saving. And yet, she may be afraid about what would happen if her insurance company or employers decided one day to take her to court and use her online search records as evidence against her.

Can this happen?

If we are not vigilent in protecting our rights, absolutely.

Indeed, if we do not fight for our rights to online privacy and freedom, such a scenario is a very real and present danger. As Tim Berners Lee has stated, the temptation of companies (and indeed governments) to abuse and exploit our private data is just too strong, especially in this age of economic difficulties. We all know that Yahoo has turned over search information from dissidents in China for example to the Chinese government. And as for Google, well, I will just have you look at the following link:

This is why I am willing to claim that Yauba is the most important new startup to come out of India this year, and that Yauba and Zoho are the two companies most likely to hit mainstream. Yauba is the company that can once and for all shut down the idiotic argument that many online companies give about how it is not possible to provide a useful online service without invading the users privacy.

Yauba IS the Anti-Google.

P.S. I found a video online describes the search features very well:

New Indian startups such as Yauba demonstrates that Indian created services can make a tremendous impact on the global stage. The Indian startup revolution is just beginning, and we can look forward to many more great companies coming out of India in the weeks, months, and years ahead.