Want to reclaim a little privacy while online? Want to use a search engine that doesn’t make its money from selling your data? Today we are discussing the best search engines that respect your privacy in 2019. Those that don’t finance their very existence by selling what they know about you and what you do online.
Every internet user knows that when they search or spend anytime online, they surrender a little piece of themselves. Whether it’s a sliver of sanity or a piece of private data, there is a cost to everything. When you use a search engine that cost is your browsing data. Where you go, what you search for, how long you spend on a page and where you go from there.
Search engines make their money from selling behavior data. It may be anonymized. It may be randomly mixed with millions of other people’s data but you’re still in there somewhere. Since Snowden’s revelations and Google’s rule change so it no longer keeps your username and Gmail address separate from your browsing data, more and more people have been looking for private search engines.
There is another reason to use a privacy-centric search engine. The more Google knows about you, the more it tailors your search engine results to suit you. This results in what is known as a ‘filter bubble’. A situation where you don’t see all of the possibilities of that search, just what the search engine thinks you want to see. While there is nothing evil in this, it does mean you don’t always see the whole picture when performing a search.
Privacy-centric search engines
We all use search engines. The internet is actually very difficult to use without them. Unless you already know the domain name or IP address of the website, search engines are our main form of navigation. But which search engines respect your privacy and keep tracking and analytics to a minimum?
DuckDuckGo is probably the most well-known private search engine and the one I use. It’s well established and despite the bizarre name is very nice to use. It doesn’t quite have the same depth and reach as Google but it does not track everything you do while using it.
DuckDuckGo mainly uses the Yahoo search engine and anonymizes searches so the data collated from the search is not linked to you in any way. That way, DuckDuckGo can refine and improve without compromising your privacy.
WolframAlpha has been around forever and looks quite old school with categories and such on the front page. It doesn’t just perform search. It can also perform other tasks like math, financial calculators, health information and all kinds of good stuff.
Like DuckDuckGo, WolframAlpha does not track your searches or collate identifiable data about you. As far as privacy-centric search engines go, this is a very reliable one.
Startpage is another well-established search engine that values privacy. It has also been around for a while and offers the option to perform searches through a free proxy server to add to your privacy. That proxy server does slow things down a little but not so much that it makes it annoying to use.
Startpage actually uses Google to perform search but it’s a commercial arrangement where Startpage rips out all tracking data between it and Google. It maintains the quality of search we are used to but without the tracking that comes with it.
Gibiru is a less well-known option for private search. It also uses Google to search and strips out tracking data before it gets to you. The man behind the search engine says he designed Gibiru to work exactly like Google did back in those idealistic days before tracking and monetization.
It says it is faster than NSA Search Engines because it strips out everything except what is needed for search. It is fast too and well worth checking out.
Swisscows is a different beast altogether. It doesn’t use other search engines but its own AI to deliver search results. It utilizes machine learning and semantic search to deliver the results your looking for without leaning on Google, Yahoo or anyone else.
I have used Swisscows a bit and I like it. It doesn’t quite have the depth and accuracy of Google but as it is based in Switzerland, you know privacy is at the very top of the agenda!
A private search engine, combined with a secure browser like Firefox, Brave or Tor Browser and a VPN will go along way to securing your privacy online. It may seem like a lot of hoops to jump through but when your data and privacy are at stake, no hoop should be too much effort!
Know of any other privacy-centric search engines you would recommend? Tell us about it below if you do!