Discover the Best Private Search Engines and Stay Safe Online.
With the increasing importance of online search, it’s crucial to be aware of the threats to your privacy and the censorship of search results. This comprehensive guide aims to be the most in-depth resource available on private search engines, providing you with the latest updates and solutions for 2023.
We will delve into the problems of search engines that compromise your privacy and censor results, and offer the best options for safe and secure searching. Let’s start by exploring the issue of privacy in search engines.
The search engine privacy problem
Do you know that big search engines are used as data collection tools by advertising companies? Your private information is being gathered and used to make money through targeted ads, turning you into a commodity in the process.
Some of the information collected by non-private search engines includes:
- IP address
- Browser information
- Unique identifier (stored in browser cookies)
- Search queries
It’s concerning to realize that what you search for online can reveal intimate details about you, such as medical conditions, financial information, employment status, political views, and other sensitive information. This data can be linked to comprehensive digital profiles, including your real identity.
To protect your data and safeguard your privacy, it’s essential to use a private search engine. Keep your information out of the hands of data collectors and search securely.
Search engine censorship in 2023
Are you tired of facing censorship while searching for information online? Censorship can take various forms, including filtering, blocking, and manipulating search results. Unfortunately, even private search engines are not immune to censorship.
- Private search engines that rely on big players like Google and Bing may still deliver censored results.
- Some private search engines have their own censorship policies, like down-ranking sites associated with disinformation.
However, there are alternative private search engines that offer a censorship-free experience, such as:
- Independent search engines that deploy their own crawlers, like Mojeek or Brave Search.
- Searx, which allows you to choose the engines it uses.
It’s time to take control of your search experience and explore these alternative private search engines.
Searx – Open source and uncensored search engine
Jurisdiction: Unrestricted (Open-source and not limited to any particular location)
Customizable Search Results: Tailored to Your Needs! Select from a vast array of search engines to display results.
Searx is a privacy-focused, open-source metasearch engine that collects results from multiple search engines while protecting your data. The best part? You have complete control over which search engines to source results from and the categories to display them in.
Avoid Blocked Searches: Google has been known to block requests from Searx, but with the ability to choose the search engines, you can sidestep such issues effortlessly.
Host Your Own Instance: If you want, you can run your own version of Searx. The only drawback is that your search results will not be mixed with other users. Get started with Searx – it’s open-source and available on GitHub.
Unfortunately, the Searx project does not operate an official public instance. While they suggest using public instances run by various entities or individuals, there is no guarantee that these instances won’t log your search results on their servers. This could potentially expose your data to entities like advertising companies, intelligence agencies, or even malicious individuals with the intention to spy. The only way to guarantee the safety of your data is to run your own instance of Searx.
Search Results: Its own index!
Brave Search is still in its beta stage, but it’s showing promise. It’s brought to you by the team behind Brave, which is a privacy-focused browser built on open-source Chromium technology. Unlike most other search engines in this list, Brave uses its own search index rather than relying on Bing or Google.
Here’s a quick rundown of the Brave Search project from their official website:
Brave Search is a complete, independent, and private search engine that provides the world’s most secure browsing experience. By integrating Brave Search into its browser, Brave offers the first all-in-one browser and search alternative to big tech platforms. Brave Search is also available on other browsers at search.brave.com.
As Brave Search is still new, there is limited information available on the company’s policies and practices. However, they have an FAQ page that provides some answers to common questions. We’re eager to see how this project develops as it seems to be a strong alternative from a well-respected organization. We’ll be keeping a close eye on its progress.
Search Results: In our evaluation, most of the results obtained through MetaGer were from Bing, followed by Scopia and the German-based start-up search engine, Infotiger. Additionally, some results were sourced from Yandex and Yahoo.
MetaGer is a German-based, open-source metasearch engine that gathers results from several sources, including Bing, Yandex, Yahoo, and others, as well as having its own web crawler. The project was founded in 1996 and is now run by a non-profit organization in Germany called SUMA-EV (Association for Free Access to Knowledge). During our review of MetaGer, we found the results to be satisfactory, with several helpful features:
-Every result is labeled with its source
-Available search filters (date, safe search, and language)
-Option to view results anonymously through a proxy
-A new results category for News and Politics.
For stability and security, MetaGer does store some logs on their servers, but these logs are deleted automatically after 96 hours. MetaGer is funded through a combination of user donations and ads served through partner networks like Bing, which appear at the top of search results. However, you can opt for an ad-free experience by becoming a member. MetaGer notes that they rely on memberships and personal donations to sustain their operations.
Jurisdiction: United Kingdom
Search Results: Mojeek boasts its own crawler, offering true search independence!
Mojeek sets itself apart from other private search engines by having its own crawler. This means you can enjoy complete freedom from the corporate data giants, Google and Bing. According to Mojeek’s blog, the service has already indexed over 4 billion pages as of 2021. If you’re looking for a truly independent search experience, Mojeek is definitely worth considering.
Search Results: Bing
Qwant, a French-based private search engine, is bound to stringent data privacy regulations in Europe, much more so than in other countries such as the United States. Qwant ensures user privacy by promising to not track their data, and to break free from the constraints of the filter bubble. These are commendable attributes, especially considering that its primary source for search results is Microsoft’s Bing search engine.
Jurisdiction: United States
Search Results: Mainly from Bing, but also from other sources.
DuckDuckGo, commonly known as DDG, is one of the most well-known private search engines. Its popularity has greatly increased since it was last reviewed. For many users, setting DDG as their default search engine is a common step when installing a new web browser.
Founded in 2008 by Gabriel Weinberg, DDG is based in the United States, which may not be the optimal location for privacy concerns. It draws search results from over 400 sources, including Wikipedia, Bing, and Yahoo, and has a strong partnership with Yahoo (now owned by Verizon).
In March 2022, DDG made two notable announcements in response to the situation between Russia and Ukraine. It stated that it would censor and “down-rank” search results related to “disinformation,” and would no longer source search results from Yandex, according to reports.
While we do not wish to criticize DDG’s decision to “down-rank” certain websites, it is important to note that these actions can be seen as censorship, which DDG had previously criticized in other search engines. Nevertheless, this website does not take a political stance.
DuckDuckGo operates on a revenue model that involves displaying advertisements and participating in affiliate programs. Just like other search engines such as Google, ads will appear on the top of your search results. DDG has established affiliations with well-known companies such as Amazon and eBay.
YaCy is a decentralized, open-source private search engine created in 2004 by Michael Christen. Unlike centralized search engines that run on a single server, YaCy operates on a peer-to-peer network, making it resistant to seizure or tampering by authorities. To use YaCy, users need to download the free software, which is available for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. The platform functions as a peer-to-peer crawler model, with all peers in the network being equal and capable of crawling the web or indexing pages for other users. You can test out YaCy’s capabilities through the demo portal available on their website.
Ecosia, based in Germany, distinguishes itself from other search engines on our list by its philanthropic mission to plant trees. The company claims to be a private search engine, but its practices raise questions about its level of privacy.
Ecosia collects all search queries, anonymizing the data after a 7-day period. Additionally, the company uses website analytics to gather information such as IP address, browser agent, location and more. Despite these privacy concerns, it is worth noting that Ecosia primarily gets its search results from Bing.
Disclaimer: Yandex is a Russian search engine that engages in censorship, similar to other Western-based search engines such as Google and Bing. However, it may be a viable option for finding information that cannot be found through other Western-based search engines. Please use caution.
It is important to note that Yandex is legally bound to censor search results as a result of the massive censorship mandated by the Russian government. The country has a history of actively blocking websites since 2012, including major social media sites and international news outlets.
If you are unable to find the information you seek through Western-based search engines, Yandex may be worth considering. But due to its involvement in censorship, use with caution.