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Enhance your Privacy: The World’s Most Private Search Engines!

It’s official… I’ve finally dumped Google as my preferred search engine. With all the ramifications presented by recent disclosures regarding privacy and PRISM, the NSA, etc. it seemed a prudent move to make.

I’ve been using Google search for many years. However, with privacy issues so much in the spotlight of late I thought it was time to seek out a replacement from among those alternative search engines which promise to deliver optimum privacy. In no particular order, here is a brief rundown on the three contenders:

Duck Duck Go

duck duck go search

The oddly named “Duck Duck Go” is arguably the best known of these search engines which advocate and emphasize privacy. I added Duck Duck Go to the list of search engines in Firefox some time back but I openly admit I haven’t used it very much at all (the ‘devil you know’ syndrome).  Duck Duck Go’s policy is simply stated as follows:

DuckDuckGo does not collect or share personal information. That is our privacy policy in a nutshell.

Zero ambiguity there… short, sweet, and to the point.

Duck Duck Go includes a drop down menu adjacent to the Search bar which allows for more concentrated searches:

Duck Duck Go_search options (2)

And a nice range of “Settings” to customize behavior, look and feel:

duck duck go settings

The all important results:

duck duck go results

Ixquick

ixquick searchI hadn’t heard of this search engine until I recently tripped over a reference to it on Bill Mullins Tech Thoughts site. Ixquick’s privacy policy is similarly short, sweet, and unambiguous:

Ixquick does NOT collect or share ANY personal information!

According to Ixquick’s About Page, it draws its results from a combination of popular search engines:

When you search with Ixquick search engine, you are searching many popular search engines simultaneously and anonymously. Combined, these engines cover more of the Internet than any one search engine alone.

An Ixquick result is awarded one star () for every search engine that chooses it as one of the ten best results for your search. So a five star () result means that five search engines agreed on the result.

Settings are pretty straightforward with provisions for behavior, filtering, and basic customizations:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

And the all important results:

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Startpage

Startpage_search engineLook familiar? That’s because Startpage comes from the same stable as Ixquick and is pretty much identical to its sister search engine, with one notable exception:

When you search with Startpage the Web results are generated by Google. This offers you the search results and search features you may have grown accustomed to.

On Startpage the privacy of Ixquick is combined with the Web search results from Google. The combination of these two features is what makes Startpage so special.
You can continue using the Web results from the world’s most popular search engine but now under the privacy protection of Ixquick, the world’s most private search engine.

Startpage’s privacy policy, settings, and display are pretty much identical to Ixquick’s so no further elaboration is required.

All three provide simple methods to either add the search engine into the browser as an option or set as your home page (which is the preferred option for persistent/default use).

The Verdict

All these search engines offer comparable privacy features so the decision is pretty much subjective. I settled on Ixquick for my new default search engine simply because I prefer the way in which it displays search results. If you are into extra features, I would suggest Duck Duck Go may be for you. And, if you simply cannot get by without your daily dose of ‘Googling’, then Startpage should fit your bill nicely.

P.S. Indications are now coming to hand that Duck Duck Go’s traffic has surged substantially since news of PRISM and its implications were uncovered.

Interview with DuckDuckGo Founder and CEO Gabriel Weinberg on Bloomberg TV:

About the author - Jim Hillier
Managing Editor/Contest Coordinator of Daves Computer Tips - Jim is the resident freeware aficionado at DCT. A computer veteran with 30 years of experience. His first computer was a TRS-80 in the 1980s. He progressed through the Commodore series of computers before moving to PC's in the 1990s. Jim currently uses both Win7 and Win8. Jim has a passion for free software and hopes to share that passion with others during his tenure here!
 
Comments

Nice one Jim. I have been using DuckDuck Go for several months and gave Google the flick. I am also trying Peppermint since it was discussed on FBB.
Cheers,

Jon in Oz.

Thanks for the tips Jim. I’ve been using DuckDuckGo for some time, but I hadn’t heard of the other two. I’ll be checking them out as well.

So, Jim Hillier,
What will be your next steps in ‘attempts’ to go clandestine?
1) Will you find a pseudonym?
2) Will you be dumping your smart phone?
3) Will you be getting an email service in another country that cannot be subpoenaed by the likes of the US government?
4) Will you relinquish your domain(s) so that you can re-register them as private?
5) Will you stop traveling in commercial aircraft?
6) Will you be using TOR networks and the darknet, the browse about?
7) Will you rid yourself of all your credit cards and turn to BitCoins?
I fervently practice the top 5 for too many years to count.
Unfortunately and essentially, the cat has been out of the bag for decades and as Scott McNealy of Sun MicroSystem had eloquently stated in 1996 >> consumer privacy issues are a “…red herring”, “you have zero privacy anyway”, “get over it”
Or as the Borg once had stated “Resistance is futile… you SHALL be assimilated!” [did Borg use exclamation points?]

Hi RandiO – I’m about as “clandestine” as an open book. I’ve been on this earth for a very long time, I suspect the world knows who I am already. :)

I actually do not worry over online privacy issues too much. I’ve always been of the opinion that the average citizen gives up more personal information during many offline transactions; opening bank accounts, any major purchases, loan applications, etc. However, there is one big difference; that information is generally provided willingly/voluntarily.

Even though I am not overly concerned myself about online privacy, I still maintain that it makes sense to utilize any steps which can help improve the situation, especially when those steps are quick and easy to implement.

Cheers… Jim

Hi Jim Hillier,
I fully sympathize and my numbered points were truly directed at your readers for additional protection measures, just in case.
But I figured I could tickle you a bit, as well!
Greets, ;)

Jim, I have tried the three search engines you mentioned but none of them seem to provide a specific Shopping Search with accompanying prices and images as Google does. So until I learn about a search engine for the UK that includes the same type of Shopping Search as Google UK, I’m afraid I have no real option but to stick with Google despite all its faults :-(

Hi, Sheri,
Have you tried shopping searches via the Google Images site. It is an indirect method and you have to go by the images shown for items, and then when you click on an image, it takes you to shopping link directly. You can also try sites like overstock.com and/or ebay/amazon (and some of the other aggregate shopping sites), so that you are not wholly depending on google but only if that sort of thing bothers you to the max and want to obfuscate the obvious choice. You can also try the Bing images round-about as with the indirect google images method.

Hi Sheri – Sticking with Google search is no big deal really. True privacy is an illusion anyway, all we can do is make it as difficult for the snoopers as humanly possible.

Cheers… Jim

Typical woman – shopping takes priority! (UK sexist remark – sorry! – better hurry to finish this before the police turn up). Thanks for this, I’ve added StartPage to Firefox already.
JMW, UK.

I have been using Ixquick more and more but i do not believe we will ever have total privacy.

I agree, total privacy is an illusion. We can still try to make it as difficult as possible for the snoopers though.

a good alternative is http://stopstalking.me, it does not track you and you get the same results from google bing and yahoo

It is rocket science to some people who fail to understand that our personal and private information is floating around cyber-space.
It still does not stop us putting a lock on our manual mail-boxes to stop unknown entities stealing mail which is not possible or too private to send by email.

Jonno.

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