Reasons You Should Use A Private Search Engine
Privacy-focused tools are the most user-friendly on the internet. This is because by protecting their users’ information, rather than using it against them, they empower users to decide for themselves. Big search engines offer very little transparency as to how they actually use the user-information they collect. Here are some reasons it’s a good idea to use a private search engine.
Without tracking, search engines serve you fewer ads and less-intrusive ads. Your results can’t be influenced by your past searches or web browsing.
Normal search engines will normally cache your search terms and the pages you visit. Then anyone with access to your computer will have access to this information. Google has added encryption to user search terms, however this doesn’t keep that information from going to Google and anyone it chooses to share that information with.
Peace of Mind
Searching with private search engines gives users peace of mind that their searches aren’t being monitored — by the search engine itself, or by third-parties like the NSA. The data profiles that different organization store about you, can be used against you in a number of ways. These can lead to employer, consumer, and even criminal discrimination if used incorrectly.
Objective and Neutral Search Results
Your results won’t be biased from your past searches. Filter bubbles are a real problem, because they eliminate opposing views from your search results and social media feeds. Private search engines deliver the same results for every user, because they don’t use complex data profiles to tailor search results.
Private Browsing Modes Aren’t Private
In private browsing or Incognito Mode, your browser doesn’t track information about your internet behavior. However, information is still stored and sent from the websites you visit. Private search engines can truly keep your search terms hidden and in encrypted form.
What Does Incognito Mode Do?
Using Incognito Mode, Chrome won’t save the following information:
- Your browsing history
- Cookies and site data
- Information entered in forms
When users open an incognito window, Google discloses: Your activity might still be visible to:
- Websites you visit
- Your employer or school
- Your internet service provider
Searches Aren’t Linked To Your Email or Other Accounts
Private search engines, for the most part, are focused on delivering reliable and useful search tools. Unlike big search engines which try to gather your information from as many angles as possible, private search engines have one product which doesn’t collect user data.
Google, for example, has hundreds of products and services which collect and process user data. If you use Gmail for your email and Google for your search engine, your data profile is more complete because Google can link your searches to your email address and your name. Private search engines to track or store any of this information.
Profits vs. Privacy
Big search engines have massive advertising networks. If your search engine is also running a massive advertising network, why should it act in its users’ best interests and not in the advertisers’ paying for user data? Giving users control over their data means that companies like Facebook would have less information to use for ad targeting–cutting into their profits.
A lack of privacy gives advertisers the abilities to maliciously target users, giving them power to influence buying behavior. Search providers have a choice to make, profit from user data or use a different business model.
Other Steps To Protect Your Search Privacy
A search engine, no matter how private, cannot protect you from other trackers on the internet. They are still valuable tools, though, in a complete suite of privacy tools.
Use a VPN
Many people use a VPN to get around content blockers at school and work. VPNs also offer privacy protection for their users (hence the name, Virtual Private Network). These tools move your internet connection to a different location so that websites that track you can’t easily identify you.
And by combining a VPN with a private search engine, you are adding even more privacy protection to your internet browsing.
Use a Better Browser
While all browsers offer the same functionality, they are not all created equal–especially for privacy. The best private web browsers are Tor, Firefox and Brave. A better browser is an easy switch because alternative browsers work exactly the same as browsers most people are already comfortable with.
Google uses first-party cookies to track users who visit its websites. It then uses third-party cookies to follow you around the web once you leave Google. By disabling cookies in your browser settings, you aren’t letting websites follow you around the web and store information about your use of their website. Even if you aren’t logged into your Gmail account, for example, as long as your browser stores a cookie, search engines can connect your search terms to your computer.
Use Strong Passwords
You can use all the privacy and security features in the world, but if someone cracks a weak password for your computer or email accounts, your privacy is completely gone. A strong password is your first line of defense against hackers, or other malicious actors.
Read More: Complete Guide to Internet Safety & Privacy
It’s time to encrypt and anonymize your online activity. The internet is better for all its users if data can be kept private, and users are given control of how their data is collected, stored and processed.
Originally published at choosetoencrypt.com on April 12, 2018.
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