One of our predictions for 2019 is that there will be a shift from big tech companies to smaller alternatives that actually make user privacy a priority. In 2018 it seemed like every week a new story came out about how companies were misusing their customers’ personal data.
These search engines are some private alternatives to the most popular search engines on the internet. If you use a search engine that you are logged into, all of your searches can be linked back to your account. Search engines can then use that data to serve you specifically targeted (and often intrusive) ads. Private search engines like these use only the search term you typed in to determine which ads you see above your search results.
Search Encrypt is a privacy-friendly search engine that is growing more feature-rich and user-friendly all the time. In the past year it added video, news, maps and shopping search results. As Search Encrypt grows more feature-rich and improves its search results, it’s rapidly gaining users. It now sees millions of visitors per day.
When you search with Search Encrypt, your searches are encrypted locally which means that your search terms are sent to our server in an encrypted form. Even if someone is able to monitor your network activity or remotely access your computer, your search terms will be private and secure.
What sets Search Encrypt apart from most other search engines, is the level of encryption it uses. Your search terms are 1) encrypted locally, 2) transmitted via HTTPS, 3) and protected with expiring encryption keys. This means you can be very confident that when using this search engine, you will be the only one who knows what you’re searching for.
Read More: Search Encrypt Protects Your Search Privacy
If you’ve heard of one private search engine, odds are it is DuckDuckGo. DuckDuckGo currently sees over 30 million searches per day. It offers a feature called !bangs, which let users search other websites directly from DuckDuckGo. !bangs certainly add convenience and are a factor that encourages many people to switch from their current search engine to DDG.
DuckDuckGo doesn’t track your searches, so it can’t build a data profile about you. Some search engines let you log in, which to them means they have an account to connect to your searches and web browsing activity. DuckDuckGo makes money when you click on the ads that appear above your search results. These ads are based on the search terms you enter, and not on any of your past searches or web browsing.
StartPage is another private search engine that has been around for awhile. At the end of 2018, StartPage updated their search engine and revamped its appearance. When you search with StartPage you will notice “Anonymous View” next to your search results. Clicking on this will open the web page via an anonymous proxy, this way your private data is protected from the sites you visit.
StartPage says that “you can’t beat Google when it comes to online search”. Their approach to providing a private search tool is to use Google’s results and remove all trackers and logs.
StartPage began in 1998 as Ixquuick.com and eventually renamed itself StartPage. It’s based in Europe, meaning it falls under European privacy laws like GDPR. According to its homepage, StartPage intends to develop private versions of other common digital services soon.
Qwant is a French search engine that prioritizes user privacy. It was founded in 2013 by Eric Leandri and Jean Manuel Rozan. Today Qwant has over 50 employees in offices throughout France. Similar to other private search engines, Qwant shows that it’s possible to be a for-profit business while maintaining integrity.
Vice’s Motherboard covered Qwant and shared why it thinks you don’t need to hand over “reams of private data for a pleasant experience.” Qwant is an advocate for online privacy. Qwant aims to put privacy first to deliver unbiased results. This is another reason for using private search engines, avoiding bias in search results (also known as filter bubbles).
Read More: What are Filter Bubbles & How To Avoid Them
Searx calls itself a “privacy-respecting, hackable metasearch engine.” It securely and privately aggregates results from over 70 search services. Searx does not track or profile its users and it works with Tor, which is another great internet privacy tool. Every result that Searx returns is a direct link to the result, and not a tracked redirect link as used by Google. Searx also allows users to visit “cached” or “proxied” links so they can get the information from a website without visiting, or passing data to, the site.