Most people go to Google, Yahoo or Bing when they need to look up information. These services are free to use, and ultimately, users are the product. These search engines actually collect your data. They will gather your search terms, browser cookies, user agents and IP address. This is a major abuse of people’s privacy, but it is entirely legal.
The problem with using Google is that there is no way you can “opt out” of this policy. Google can use your information and sell it to third-party entities, so you end up with more targeted ads. There are various ways you can protect yourself. You can invest in a VPN service that protects your location and IP address. You can remain logged out of your social media accounts when you use these search engines. Another option is to start using a search engine that values your privacy.
An Array of Search Engines Are Available
When most people think of search engines, their first thoughts automatically turn toward Google. However, there is a litany of search engines available, and many value users’ privacy much more. The ideal situation would be to use a search engine that still gives you the results you want while respecting your privacy. Here is a list of privacy-friendly search engines you should try out to see if they give you the best of both worlds.
Searx gathers the results you would get from other search engines while also maintaining user privacy. It is an open-source metasearch engine that gives you the ability to run your own instance. The downside of this is that other users’ search results will not be mixed in with your own. One aspect of this search engine many users enjoy is the fact it is entirely customizable. You can choose which search engines you want Searx to pull from. There are additional ways you can narrow down what type of results you see.
If you only want the results you would get from Google with greater privacy, then you should opt for Startpage. It provides you with advanced filtering options, and you can also search for only videos or images if that is what you want. Startpage has been around since 1998, so it has a proven history of success. This search engine does not share any of your information with third-party entities or log your data. One reason this search engine is so effective is that it is based out of the Netherlands, which has great laws regarding people’s privacy.
In 2008, Gabriel Weinberg founded DuckDuckGo. This is a search engine based out of the United States that generates results from hundreds of sources, including Yahoo, Yandex, Bing and Wikipedia. To remain up and running, DuckDuckGo is heavily reliant on affiliates and advertisements. Similarly to Google, this search engine will show ads at the top of the page. It has partnered with eBay and Amazon as affiliates. While DuckDuckGo does save searches, it does not personally identify you or your IP address.
Europe has strict data-privacy protections, and Qwant utilizes these protections to its advantage. It was initially founded in 2013. The search engine promises users will not get trapped inside a filter bubble while still having a good level of privacy. You can also filter your results based on whether you want to browse through social media or news outlets. Qwant is incredibly popular, and it generates more than 10 million searches every single day.
When you want to disconnect from the normal invasion of privacy associated with many search engines, you need to opt for Disconnect Search. It is predominantly a browser-based tool. It sources results from all the other major search engines, such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. You can also alter your location via a browser extension. Disconnect Search has plenty of privacy tools, including a privacy browser and a VPN.
Smaller Privacy Search Engines
The above search engines are some of the larger ones you will find in the marketplace. However, there are smaller ones that have not taken off in the same way. They may be perfect for what you need. Here are a few more to consider:
- MetaGer: Some of the most important characteristics of MetaGer include open-source software, anonymous proxy and zero storage of private data.
- Swisscows: This one receives over 20 million unique monthly search queries and provides search results based on Bing.
These are all solid options, and while they have not quite taken off yet, they are worth looking into. With research, you could probably find plenty of others that may suit your needs better.
Factors To Consider for the Right Search Engine for You
- Trust: While it is difficult to quantify trust, you need to look into what kind of reputation the search engine has. Are people generally satisfied with how their data is utilized?
- Search Results: Finally, you still want to get valuable search results. You should see where the search engine will provide links from, so you do not miss out on anything.
Your privacy is critical. In general, it is best to use a combination of resources. This includes a privacy search engine, excellent VPN service and various other privacy tools.