Comparison of private search engines

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Everyone needs to search for information using a search engine. And with many of the more popular search engines working closely with advertisers to perfectly target you with advertising, it seems to be getting harder to protect your privacy. 

But there are easy ways to protect yourself against being tracked when you search on the web and browse results – you can use a private metasearch or search engine.

Some of the features you should look for are:

  • No behavioural tracking or history – No identifiers used to keep track of your searches and behaviour across the web.
  • Independent index – Full control over the search algorithm and a guarantee to avoid searching in a filter bubble!
  • Open source – the community can participate and check the code to ensure the index is created fairly and the algorithms that serves you the results are not biased.
  • Based in the EU – Worth noting because the EU has strong privacy laws,  and according to, US based services provide data to US surveillance programs. 
  • Primary source for information – For metasearch engines like Startpage, you should be aware of what partnerships they have and where they receive their results from.      

Comparison of private search engines and metasearch engines

Findx DuckDuckGo Searx Qwant StartPage
No behavioural tracking or search history Service closed + + + +
Independent index (not metasearch) Service closed - - + In France/ - unclear where else -
Open source Service closed - / Partially + - -
Based in EU Service closed - Decentralized + +
Primary source for search results Service closed Bing User choice Bing (Own in France) Google
Note: The data above is based on public information published by the included search engines, with additional information from independent reviews, including as published on the Wikipedia pages for the search engines. This data was last checked in November 2018.

About alternative search engines with privacy

Private search engines and solutions protecting people’s online privacy will continue to grow as the concerns for digital privacy increase. People are already asking for alternative data-ethical solutions where personal information is protected and control is in the hands of people.

How search engines make money?

By searching in private you aren’t hiding in your own filter bubble, your search history isn’t collected and you are not haunted by advertisements all over the internet based on your online behaviour. You might then ask yourself the question; How does a private search engine make money?  

What are the features of a private search engine?

If you want to learn more about how you can search the web, make route plans, and watch videos in privates read about the features of private search engines .


Activate privacy is a private project.