Privacy-focused tools are the most user-friendly on the internet. This is because by protecting their users’ information, rather than using it against them, they empower users to decide for themselves what happens with their data. Most search engines, like Google, offer very little transparency as to how they actually use the user-information they collect. Here are some reasons it’s a good idea to use a private search engine.
Without tracking, search engines serve you fewer ads and less-intrusive ads. Your results can’t be influenced by your past searches or web browsing. Another positive benefit of less tracking is that the ads that show up on other websites you visit won’t be as intrusive and related to the things you’ve searched for on Google.
Normal search engines will normally cache your search terms and the pages you visit. Then anyone with access to your computer will have access to this information. Google has added encryption to user search terms, however this doesn’t keep that information from going to Google and anyone it chooses to share that information with.
Peace of Mind
Searching with private search engines gives users peace of mind that their searches aren’t being monitored — by the search engine itself, or by third-parties like the NSA. The data profiles that different organization store about you, can be used against you in a number of ways. These can lead to employer, consumer, and even criminal discrimination if used incorrectly.
The peace of mind that private search engines deliver is a result of less risk involved with data breaches or hacks. If a company stores information about your browsing behavior or search history, a breach could expose your private information. While your search history may seem harmless, it may contain sensitive data without your knowledge. For example, if you’ve searched for your name to see what comes up, that could reveal your identity. If you’ve searched for your address for the purpose of getting directions that information could be exposed to malicious actors. Private search engines generally get rid of that risk.
Private Search Delivers Objective and Neutral Search Results
Without tracking you, private search engines can’t introduce bias into your search results based on your past searches. The phenomenon of only seeing certain results that you’re likely to click on or show interest in is called “filter bubbles”. Filter bubbles are a real problem, because they eliminate opposing views from your search results and social media feeds.
These are based on confirmation biases, meaning if you only see similar viewpoints to what you’ve already seen, your views will grow stronger and you will write off any opposing viewpoints more quickly. Using a private search engine can be relieving knowing that anyone could search for the same thing and see the same results.
In theory, private search engines deliver the same results for every user, because they don’t use complex data profiles to tailor search results. If you’re using a search engine for research, private search engines can actually present you with a more realistic range of opinions and information sources than mainstream search engines.
It’s concerning to think that the internet, despite it being accessible to almost anyone, could be skewed in favor of particular information for each individual. So rather than the internet being a resource for everyone to access all of the information equally, the algorithms many services use are responsible for what is actually “the truth”.
The most important source of information that people use online is a search engine. Most people start their browsing with a search engine, rather than typing in a URL directly into their address bar. If their search engine returns different results for them than for someone else using the same search engine, each of these users would be in a “filter bubble“.
Read More: What Are Filter Bubbles & How to Avoid Them?
We believe that a search engine has a responsibility to deliver relevant and objective results, as well as high quality information. If a search engine with millions of users is directing people towards poor information sources, the effects on society could be drastic. The methods that search engines use to determine which sites get listed at the top of your search results are all quite similar, but low-quality sites sneaking into the top results is still possible.
Private Browsing Modes Aren’t Private
In private browsing or Incognito Mode, your browser doesn’t track information about your internet behavior. However, information is still stored and sent from the websites you visit. Private search engines can truly keep your search terms hidden and in encrypted form. Encrypted search terms make it more difficult for your ISP, other users on your machine, and surveillance organizations to view your search terms.
What Does Incognito Mode Do?
Using Incognito Mode, Chrome won’t save the following information:
- Your browsing history
- Cookies and site data
- Information entered in forms
When users open an incognito window, Google discloses: Your activity might still be visible to:
- Websites you visit
- Your employer or school
- Your internet service provider
Searches Aren’t Linked To Your Email or Other Accounts
Private search engines, for the most part, are focused on delivering reliable and useful search tools. Unlike big search engines which try to gather your information from as many angles as possible, private search engines have one product which doesn’t collect user data.
Google, for example, has hundreds of products and services which collect and process user data. If you use Gmail for your email and Google for your search engine, your data profile is more complete because Google can link your searches to your email address and your name. Private search engines to track or store any of this information. We recommend not using a search engine that makes you log in, or even offers that as an option because it will just make their data profile about you more complete.
Profits vs. Privacy
Big search engines have massive advertising networks. If your search engine is also running a massive advertising network, why should it act in its users’ best interests and not in the advertisers’ paying for user data? Giving users control over their data means that companies like Facebook would have less information to use for ad targeting–cutting into their profits.
A lack of privacy gives advertisers the abilities to maliciously target users, giving them power to influence buying behavior. Search providers have a choice to make, profit from user data or use a different business model. Luckily, both for Search Encrypt and people using it, we have found a business model that doesn’t rely on user data to make money.
Search Encrypt Has Better Privacy by Default Than Other “Private” Search Engines
When you use Search Encrypt we protect your searches with end-to-end encryption. This means that anywhere someone could intercept your searches, your search term will be in encrypted form. We use industry standard AES-256 encryption. Almost all private search engines don’t track you. However, no tracking is just one aspect of the privacy protection that private search engines offer. Search Encrypt’s encryption, both client-side and server-side, is the most important privacy and security protection measure that it offers.
With other search engines that call themselves “private”, if you search, your search terms show up in your search URL and in your browsing history. This eliminates much of the effectiveness of a private search engine. Search Encrypt keeps your search terms encrypted and hidden in your search URL.
Other Steps To Protect Your Search Privacy
A search engine, no matter how private, cannot protect you from other trackers on the internet. They are still valuable tools, though, in a complete suite of privacy tools.
Use a VPN
Many people use a VPN to get around content blockers at school and work. VPNs also offer privacy protection for their users (hence the name, Virtual Private Network). These tools move your internet connection to a different location so that websites that track you can’t easily identify you.
And by combining a VPN with a private search engine, you are adding even more privacy protection to your internet browsing.
Read More: Best VPNs for Privacy in 2019
Use a Better Browser
While all browsers offer the same functionality, they are not all created equal–especially for privacy. The best private web browsers are Tor, Firefox and Brave. A better browser is an easy switch because alternative browsers work exactly the same as browsers most people are already comfortable with.
Read More: ExpressVPN’s Top Browsers for Privacy
Google uses first-party cookies to track users who visit its websites. It then uses third-party cookies to follow you around the web once you leave Google. By disabling cookies in your browser settings, you aren’t letting websites follow you around the web and store information about your use of their website. Even if you aren’t logged into your Gmail account, for example, as long as your browser stores a cookie, search engines can connect your search terms to your computer.
Use Strong Passwords
You can use all the privacy and security features in the world, but if someone cracks a weak password for your computer or email accounts, your privacy is completely gone. A strong password is your first line of defense against hackers, or other malicious actors.
Read More: Best Password Manager Tools
It’s time to encrypt and anonymize your online activity, and on a wider scale. The internet is better for all its users if data can be kept private, and users are given control of how their data is collected, stored and processed.