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Why You Should Use a Private Search Engine

February 24, 2021
PRIVACY AND FREEDOM

Few people think twice about a quick online search. When you need directions, the latest news, a phone number, or any small bit of information, you typically head to the most popular mainstream search sites. However, you could be exposing your data and privacy by doing so. So, what is the safest search engine?

It’s likely not the one you go to first. The big search engines use cookies, which allow them to discreetly gather data on users. These companies are able to see what you’re searching for – this alone can feel like an intrusion, but it can also create future problems. When search engines are able to build a history of users’ searches, they can create profiles compiled with their interests, habits and even frequent locations, all of which can be sold to marketers. These strategies lead to users being targeted by ads, which is a misleading and invasive practice. Search engines can even record your IP address, which could expose your physical location and, ultimately, your safety.

Considering that, it’s time to switch to a private search engine. There are many reputable sites that provide a more secure alternative to the big search engines.

Top Private Search Engines

StartPage: This Netherlands-based site doesn’t rely on tracking cookies and doesn’t track IP addresses. Also, since it’s based overseas, StartPage is compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation, adding an extra layer of security.

 

DuckDuckGo: This is considered one of the most popular private search engines, perhaps because of the impressive results - the site sources results from more than 400 places. Its privacy policy ensures that it doesn’t store IP addresses or other sensitive personal information and also doesn’t use tracking cookies. DuckDuckGo does save search terms, but pledges to use the data in a responsible way.

 

Swisscows: Based underground in the Swiss Alps, Swisscows makes user privacy the company’s priority. It records no personal information—no IP address, device data or search terms. The only information is does track is the number of search requests that come through the site each day, which is completely anonymized. Plus, it uses privately owned servers, adding an extra layer of data security.

It’s up to your personal priorities and preferences how you determine what is the safest search engine, but it’s important to do your research and build safe searching into part of a broader strategy for online security. That should include using a private email service, practicing safe password selection, using device encryption where possible and avoiding public WiFi. With all of these measures in place, you can be more confident that you’re surfing and searching securely.

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