Internet user tracking is a sensitive issue nowadays. More and more sites and apps store info related to their users built profiles and try to monetize them. We are overwhelmed by targeted ads, suggested posts and other profile related messages. The online activity that probably reveals the most info about you is searching. Learn about the search engine tracking, search leakage, and private search engines. They are alternative search engines to Google and Bing.
How can a search engine track you?
When you perform a search using a search tool or engine, you share important info (like your IP address and the User Agent – information that may identify you directly) with the search engine you are using.
The collected info is usually used for ad targeting and other types of user profiling, but it may also be used to track your online activities.
Search engine profiles can include information about your:
- Age, sex, location, address.
- Salary, last purchases, bank name.
- Facebook profile, Twitter account, email account, social media tags.
- Political tendencies, beliefs, medical conditions.
What is search leakage?
Moreover, the search terms (or search queries) are sent over to the site you clicked on. Thus, when you search, you are sharing the search info not only with your search engine but also with all the websites that you are visiting. That is called search leakage.
What are private search engines?
Private search engines are those search sites that:
- Protect you from search leakage.
- Don’t store your personal information (like the IP address).
- Do not store your search history.
- Don’t track you in any other way (no tracking your steps, no tracking cookies).
By using such a search engine, your online identity is protected, and you may search anything you want without the fear to be tracked.
Private search engines options
Yes, you have options. Several search engines claim that they do not store any info regarding your searches or related to your identity. However, it is hard to verify those claims, so use them at your own risk.
DuckDuckGo is the preferred search engine by many users concerned about their privacy and anonymity. It serves more than 10 Million searches a day. DuckDuckGo distinguishes itself from other search engines by not profiling its users and by showing all users the same search results for a given search term.
DuckDuckGo’s privacy page is self-explanatory: DuckDuckGo does not collect or share personal information. Plus, it prevents search leakage by default.
DuckDuckGo shows ads that are not related to user profiles, and they can be disabled.
Ixquick/Startpage prevents the search leakage of your search terms to third parties by using the so-called POST method by default instead of the GET method, which is used by many other search providers.
A significant feature of Startpage is that it offers to browse through a proxy server to help protect you from websites tracking your IP address.
Oscobo is an anonymous search engine that provides secure search as it allows no tracking of info related to its users. It also offers a Chrome extension for doing searches.
We DO NOT store ANY search data on our users:
you use our site.
NOT when you leave.
NOT when you type words in the search box.
NOT when you come back.
No cookies, No tracking, No IP, nuttin…., zip…, nada….
Do you use private search engines? What is your favorite?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.