The trend for privacy search engines is an integral part of our lifestyle online. These search engines usually leverage the big search engines to return results, but substitute search requests so that Google, Microsoft or Yahoo cannot track the person who did the search. In short, they will only see the search inquiry that comes from the privacy search engine.
In a digital era where blogger outreach platform, social media channels, content marketing, etc. dominate the digital society, people become more hungry for information. Along with these hunger comes with privacy issues, because more queries mean more information for search engines to haul on the users.
But privacy search engines promise to do just the opposite. There will be no logging of your IP address or the searches you make. The next question then is why privacy search engines? And what search engine to use?
Why Privacy Search Engines?
The biggest problem with most search engines is that they collect your information such as your name, address, age, birthdate, work background, etc. In other words, they spy on you.
The users can’t do anything about it because that’s how the mechanism of search engines work – to gather as much information about the user to directly provide highly targeted advertising direct to the browser window.
A search engine typically transports the collected pieces of information to the owners of any third party advertising banners on a particular page and the requested web page. When a user surfs around the internet, advertisers then build up a profile of that user.
Bloomberg reveals that data breaches skyrocketed to 40% since 2016 whose casualties amounted to $73.7 billion and projected to inflate to $90 billion by 2018. Yahoo also made a report about its largest data breach in history last year which affects more than one billion user accounts.
It’s bad news for someone who cherishes his or her privacy and joins the extensive personal information that third-party companies possess under indefinite circumstances. Privacy-focused search engines are good starting points if you want to keep your data private.
DuckDuckGo Is the Answer
DuckDuckGo could be the answer to your privacy concerns. It’s the leading search engine that promises not to collect and share personal information of the users. Gabriel Weinberg, the CEO, and founder of DuckDuckGo support this advocacy and guarantees the user that their information is safe.
DuckDuckGo is a US-based company and is most the high-profile and most popular among privacy search engines. It sources its searches through Yahoo, with whom it has a strong relationship.
DuckDuckGo is the answer to the qualms of users who want to maximize their searching experience without having to worry about the invasion of their privacy. Check out the outstanding features below.
Search History Is Safe
It’s typical for other search engines to save the search history of the user, along with the information about your computer such as User agent, IP address, a unique identifier in a browser cookie, and the date and time of the search, as well as the account information when the user logs in.
Search engines can directly track the searches of the user with just computer information and timestamp. The information about the user’s searches can be tied together too. It means that someone can see not just one isolated search but everything that the user searches on the browser. Thus, they will know a lot about a person just by peeking at their search history on the web.
The bottom line here is that when search engines have your information, even if they have the best intentions, it could get out and could be used against you. And this information can be pretty personal. For these reasons, DuckDuckGo decides not to collect any personal information about their users.
The decisions of how to conceal data, how to comply with the requests of law enforcement, and how to best protect the information of users from hackers are out of DuckDuckGo’s hands. The search history of the user is safe because it does not tie to him or her in any way.
Prevents Search Leakage
When you do a search and click on links, major search engines like Google send your search terms to that site you clicked on or as what tech professionals call as the HTTP referrer header. This act of sharing of personal information is called search leakage.
For instance, when you search for something private, you are not only sharing that private search with the search engine you’re using and may also share it with all the sites that you click on for that search.
Furthermore, when you visit another site, your device automatically sends information about it to that site including your IP address and User Agent. This information will be used to identify you.
DuckDuckGo hinders this so-called search leakage by default. When a user clicks on a link on its site, it routes or redirects that request in such a way that it does not send the search terms of the user to other sites. The other sites will still know when a user visits them, but they will not know what search the user enter beforehand.
In some search engines, users may use encrypted version (HTTPS), which doesn’t usually send the search terms of the users to sites. But, connecting to these versions is comparatively slow and sends the search if you click on a site that also uses HTTPS. The encrypted version of DuckDuckGo goes even further and changes links automatically from some major websites to hit those sites’ encrypted versions.
POST request is another way to prevent search leakage. It has the effect of concealing the searches that the users make in a browser and does not send it to other sites as a consequence. It could be the most welcoming ‘consequence’ for the users.
Finally, if you want to retain the sites from tracking your visits, you can use a proxy like Tor (software that conceals the identity of the user and his or her online activities) which DuckDuckGo operates. It means users can use encrypted searches using DuckDuckGo and Tor together.
Information Not Collected
When a user accesses a website, the web browser automatically sends the information about the user’s computer such as IP address and User Agent. DuckDuckGo does not log or store it as this information could be used to link the user to his or her searches. It’s a rather unusual practice, but the privacy search engine experts believe that it’s an important step to protect the privacy of the user.
DuckDuckGo also has its !bang syntax or drop-down feature which stores a list of the user’s most frequently used and visited sites in the !bang drop-down box. This information is not saved on the search engines servers at all and only resides solely on the computer. It can also ‘turn off’ setting which the user can set a URL parameter. But of course, particular searches are not stored.
It also saves searches, but then again not in an identifiable way as it does not log unique User agent strings or IP addresses. DuckDuckGo uses a non-personal, aggregate search data to correct and enhance things like misspellings.
When it comes to search engines that aren’t Google, DuckDuckGo is ahead of the flock. With its fine-tuned customization, active community, and unwavering emphasis on privacy, it’s the only search engine that offers something different, substantial enough to challenge Google. It’s not backed by a huge corporation, crowdfunding schemes, guest posting services, etc. because it doesn’t need to, as it would defeat the object of it.