Switching to a privacy respecting search engine is an essential step to improving your privacy online. The major search engines – Google and Bing – track your search terms and store data about you.
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The Problem with Search Engines
The default search engine for most people is Google. It has a 92% market share. Google Search is Google’s core product and advertisements sold on Search are its main revenue source. Google uses information gleaned from your searches and interactions with other Google products to develop a profile of you. This profile is then made available for advertisers to target you with ads across the web.
If you are logged in to Google, Google stores:
- What you search for
- How you search
- Your search patterns
- The ads you’re interested in
- The links you click
- Images you view
- Which videos you watch
Even if you aren’t signed on, Google will still use whatever information it can gather about your device (IP address for example) and attempt to collate that into other data sets.
In recent years, law enforcement has used information from Google Search for generic warrants based on a particular query, effectively allowing them to find everyone who has searched for a specific topic.
If you have used Google Search and have a Google account, you can see some of what they have stored about you. You can delete that data here.
Alternatives to Google Search
In order to prevent tracking based on your web searches, you will need to switch to a different search engine. The two best alternatives to Google Search are DuckDuckGo and Brave Search.
When you search at DuckDuckGo, we don’t know who you are and there is no way to tie your searches together.
Because this information could be used to link you to your searches, we do not log (store) it at all.
Additionally, DuckDuckGo explains their policy on saving searches:
We also save searches, but again, not in a personally identifiable way, as we do not store IP addresses or unique User agent strings. We use aggregate, non-personal search data to improve things like misspellings.
DuckDuckGo’s index is built on 400 sources with the majority of results coming from Bing.
You can search by going to DuckDuckGo.com or setting DuckDuckGo as your default search engine.
Brave Search doesn’t track you or your queries. Ever. It’s impossible for us to share, sell, or lose your data, because we don’t collect it in the first place. We leverage your browser to store information on how our search engine is helping answer your queries independently.