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As massive as it has become, Google is by no means the only search engine in existence. Although no one questions its accuracy when it comes to fetching the most relevant results to match your search query, the company’s practices on protecting the privacy of those who use their products are questionable. Not only does it track your physical location, but also sends your search queries to advertisers (even if in an anonymized fashion).
If you value your privacy, there are better alternatives out there, providing you with more privacy than Google can offer:
Despite its rather amusing name, DuckDuckGo is a search engine that’s built its good name around protecting users’ privacy. Not only does it not track your searches, but also makes it a point to store no logs on your browsing activities. While it does need ads to support itself, you will find these to be minimal in frequency. Besides, they are not as targeted as Google’s ads, which goes to show that your searches are never analyzed, not even for the purpose of advertising. However, DuckDuckGo doesn’t offer local encryption, so if you want more privacy, it’s a good idea to know what a VPN is and use it on top of that.
Did you know that Swisscows keeps its servers underground? That’s how serious the company is about keeping your data private. What’s more, they don’t track your IP address or your search queries, and your geographic location will play zero role in determining what kind of search results you receive. On the flipside, the search results may be less relevant geographically, but such is the price you sometimes have to pay for privacy. Swisscows makes a commitment not to share any information with third parties. Plus, this search engine makes an effort to censor anything that is not family-friendly, which might be a downside to some.
Relatively new to the search engine scene, Mojeek has steadily been gaining traction as of late. Being privacy-focused, it will never track your IP address, nor will it monitor your browsing behavior or search history. Unlike Google, Mojeek does not believe in personalizing your search results based on collected data. Instead, you will be served results solely on the basis of the keywords you input. Put another way, a user residing in the Western part of the world will see exactly the same thing as someone residing in the East.
4. Search Encrypt
Just as the name suggests, Search Encrypt not only does what you might expect from a standard privacy-focused search engine, but also utilizes encryption to keep your search data safe and secure. In addition, it doesn’t store any personally identifiable information about its users. Another thing you’ll notice is that this is a metasearch engine. So, instead of using its own search engine crawlers, it pulls data from other sources, such as the ones provided by its network of search partners. Browsing the web through this search ensures that your search history stays safe even on your local machine. As soon as you’ve been inactive for 15 minutes, everything gets wiped without your intervention.
Last but not least, searx is a search engine quite unlike any other we’ve mentioned today. For starters, it’s completely open-source, meaning you can go to GitHub and take a look at its code. This ensures complete transparency, something that is far from being a given in the world we live in. As far as the search results go, searx fetches data from other popular search engines and delivers them to you. In essence, it’s like being able to enjoy the best of both worlds: the accuracy and relevance of Google without personalization and privacy infringement.
When using a search engine, you need to ask yourself what is more important to you – personalization or privacy. If it’s the former, you have to bear in mind that the search engine might choose to sell the data to advertisers or other third parties. The latter might not be as custom-tailored, but at least you know you aren’t the product that’s being monetized.