If you don’t want Google and other major search engines to know so much about you, then you should consider using alternative search engines that protect privacy. Before we go on any further, let’s see what happens when you use a search engine such as Google, Bing or Yahoo:
- Your private search data is recorded. Major search engines store your search history and identify you using your IP address and tracking cookies. Stored information includes your search terms, time of visit, web browser and links visited. If you are logged in they can also know your e-mail address and any other information you have provided when you registered. Your search history reveals important information about your interests, political views, buying preferences and more. They can essentially build your profile from this data. You should also have in mind that this data might remain in their servers for an indefinite time.
- Your search terms are sent to the site you clicked on. This is called search leakage and it means that the sites you are visiting will also know your search terms, your IP address, time of visit and web browser. This data is commonly used for site analytics but it is available for other uses as well.
So now that we know what happens to your data, let’s see what the dangers are:
- Your private data and profile can be used for marketing purposes. Have you ever wondered why you often see ads that relate to your location, your previous search terms and interests? It is because ad networks such as Google AdSense use your profile to serve you targeted ads. This might not be dangerous for you but think that your profile can be sold and shared. One important consequence is spam in e-mails and sites. If you are frustrated with the amount of garbage and spam information in the Internet then you should know that this is one of the causes.
- Your private data and profile can be shared with the government and law enforcement. You might think that this is acceptable if you are a law abiding citizen. However, your data can be used by political parties to market their campaigns and identify voters. It can also be used to find out opposers (for example in a country such as China) and activists. Law enforcement can ask for this information as a part of a legal investigation. Search engines will then be obligated to cooperate and you won’t have a choice in this. The problem is that they stored the information in the first place and thus it was made available.
- Your private data and profile could fall into the hands of criminals and hackers. This can happen either as an accident or due to insufficient security measures. Criminal and hackers can then use your information to sell it, exploit it and for other purposes. You yourself might never know that this happened.
We suggest using these alternative search engines to protect your privacy:
Scroogle is no longer available. The owner took it down due to DDoS attacks and Google’s throttling.
YaCy is a decentralized search engine that anyone can use to build a search portal for their intranet or to help search the public internet. All users of the search engine network are equal, the network does not store user search requests and it is not possible for anyone to censor the content of the shared index. You can download YaCy and install it on your device. The advantages of YaCy
- Civil rights and privacy
- Censorship is almost impossible.
- A central evaluation and monitoring of search queries is impossible.
- Data tracks can not be evaluated. In addition to the data protection and privacy situation, this is an economic factor in terms of industrial espionage.
- The operation of data centers with enormous power consumption (and sometimes their own power plants) for central web search could be removed. Distributed search requires only the computers of the searchers.
- All seekers have the same rights, such as when adding new content.
- The distributed search corresponds to the Wiki / Join-principle, which has proved itself already in Internet standing.
- The content of the search engine will be determined by the users, not by commercial aspects of the Web portal operator.
- Individualization of Relevance: everyone can assess the quality and importance of web pages by their own rules and adjust to their personal relevance as a ranking method (both popular and scientific).
We suggest you use these alternative search engines to protect your privacy and anonymity.