Comparison of private search engines

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Everyone who searches for information using a search engine should consider the privacy offered by the service. Many of the more popular search engines working closely with advertisers, or run their own advertising business, to perfectly target you with advertising across the web.

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 search engine.

Some of the features to compare and are worth looking for when choosing a private search engine are:

  • The overall purposes and trustworthiness – Look for information about the business, where it’s registered, the financial transparency and what impact the company makes on the world. eg. The search engine Givero.com* donates a large part of it’s gross revenue to Non-Profit organizations.
  • No search history – Allows you to avoid collection of your search history.
  • Avoid personalized search results – Providing an option to avoid searching in a filter bubble!
  • Open source – the community can participate to enhance and extend t essential parts of the search engine.
  • Based in the EU – Worth noting because the EU has strong privacy laws,  and according to privacytools.io, US-based services provide data to US surveillance programs.
  • The primary source for information – Metasearch engines don’t have their own index, and you should consider where they receive their results from, especially if you don’t want to support Google.
  • Advertisements – Monetization is for most search engines done via advertisements, and behavioral tracking should be turned of else your data isn’t save and can be used for re-targeting on other websites.
  • Anonymity – Even if anonymity can’t be guaranteed in a search engine, it is nice to know the parties that are involved in protecting your data, and promise to keep your data safe.

Compare the private search engines and metasearch engines

Givero MojeekDuckDuckGoSearxQwantStartPage
No search history++++++
Open source+
(bangs and IA)
-+ (service closed)+
(selfhosted server)
--
Based in EU++-Decentralized++
Primary source for search resultsBingIndependent
index
BingUser choiceBing (Own in France)Google
Advertisment sourceBing-InstanceBingGoogle AdWords
Data protectionSelf+MicrosoftSelfSelf+MicrosoftInstanceSelf+MicrosoftSelf+Google
Default privacyNoYesYesYesYesYes
Social BusinessYesNoNoYesNoNo
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 August 2019.

If you got the info you needed, and don’t want to dive deeper into comparing the  details of the search engines, you can skip here, and learn more about

How does the private 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 behavior. 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 .

*Full disclosure

The author of this article is me, I’m Brian. I worked for several years on an independent European Search Engine, called Findx. Findx wasn’t sustainable in it’s roiginal form, but the idea about creating #techforgood raised, and the launch of Givero.com became a reality in February 2019.   This review is based on my learnings from working in the Search engine business, and I have admittedly an interest in telling you about Givero, but the goal of this article is to let the people take an educated decision when they decide to active privacy on their device.

How to compare the details of  private search engines.

All of the mentioned search engines are pro-privacy alternatives to Google.  You must take note that none of them can guarantee anonymity or so-called technical privacy. You are not anonymous when you search and browse the web, that’s just how it is, but you can take precautions and protect yourself.

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.

What should I look for when choosing a search engine?

Generally, a search engine must do three fundamental jobs and  for

1) Will it return the results I find relevant?

When comparing well-known search engines like Bing and Google you’ll often experience a difference in the results. A lot of people use Google and are used to the way the results are presented, and there is no doubt that Google is superior when looking at more complicated searches. Looking at the largest number of searches they are not complicated at all, and in most cases, users will find what they are looking for when they use Bing or other search engines and compare them to Google results.

2) Is the Search Engine easy enough for me to use?

“Easiness” is a subjective experience, and tech-savvy users might like a search engine they can tweak to perfection – but for most users it’s crucial that their intention when searching for something is reached, leading to the last fundamental feature of a search engine

3) Will it give me options that lead me to the right information?

When we speak about search results, we often speak about intent – as an example, a search for “Nike Sneakers” might be:

4) Does it provide some nice search engine features?

Set the search engine as default, filtering options, bangs, instant answers, shopping search map search, image search, video search and more

Additional features when comparing Private Search engines

Are the service trustworthy

The level of privacy vs. anomymity

Where in the world are the service located, and what laws does it have to comply to

How do private search engines make money?

If you want to use a private search engine, one of the question that often is askes is “How do they make money?”. There various ways a search engine can keep you privacy and make money. See the comparison chart and learn more about private search engines.

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