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 you can compare and are worth looking for 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 is turned off for all of them, and your data isn’t used for re-targeting.
  • 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 DuckDuckGo Searx Qwant StartPage
No search history + + + + +
Open source +
(bangs and IA)
+ (service closed) +
(selfhosted server)
- -
Based in EU + - Decentralized + +
Primary source for search results Bing Bing User choice Bing (Own in France) Google
Advertisment source Bing Bing Instance Bing Google AdWords
Data protection Self+Microsoft Self+Microsoft Instance Self+Microsoft Self+Google
Default privacy No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Social Business Yes No Yes No No
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 March 2019.

About alternative search engines, online privacy, and anonymity

All of the mentioned search engines is 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.

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 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, but the idea about creating #techforgood raised, and the launch of Givero.com became a reality in February 2019.    

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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Features of private search engines

You might think you’ll lose some features when you start using a private search engine, but there are actually a number of search engines with many great features that let you search in private. See the comparison chart and learn more about private search engines.

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