Private and Secure Web Search Engines: DuckDuckGo, Brave, Kagi, Startpage

When it comes to looking up information on the web, most people default to “googling” it—Google’s search engine has become so dominant that it’s now a verb, much like Photoshop. However, using Google for your searches comes with a privacy trade-off.

Google’s business relies on advertising, and every search you make contributes to the profile it uses to target ads. Although Google doesn’t share your search queries with marketing firms, it uses them to create a profile and personalize ads and search results. Consequently, Google collects a significant amount of data and uses it for ad targeting and search result personalization.

There are ways to enhance your privacy on Google’s platforms, such as using privacy-focused browsers, alternatives to Google Maps, auto-deleting web history, or limiting data collection by opting out of certain features. For those serious about privacy, there are several privacy-focused search options available that do not track queries, serve data to advertisers, or personalize search results.

DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo is simple, secure, and private.


DuckDuckGo via David Nield

DuckDuckGo, a pioneer in private search, has been focused on privacy for over 15 years. Although the service faced scrutiny in 2022 for a partnership with Microsoft that allowed tracking scripts, it has since rectified this. DuckDuckGo claims to provide more privacy than Google by collating information from over 400 sources, excluding Google, and not personalizing search results based on user data. While it displays ads, they are not tailored based on user search history.

DuckDuckGo can be added to any browser via a browser extension. Additionally, it offers a dedicated browser for Mac and Windows, and mobile apps for iOS and Android that include DuckDuckGo’s search engine.

The browser and app automatically track and block data scraping from visited websites. Users can view blocked data collection attempts and track their data across the web with the click of a button. The service also blocks trackers and data requests in mobile apps. Although it can’t block certain scripts and trackers, it provides transparency on what’s being blocked.

Brave Search

brave search engine

Brave offers private and secure searches.


Brave via David Nield

In 2021, the privacy-focused browser extension provider Brave launched its own dedicated search engine. Brave’s Search emphasizes security and privacy and does not track or log user searches. It is known for its comprehensive search results and strong privacy measures.

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