Friday, 27 January 2017 01:14

Oscobo, a new privacy focused search engine

By 

Ever since the Snowden revelations, privacy search engines and privacy, in general, have been a boom on the Internet.

Search engines focused on privacy have seen a rise in daily searches. While they are still nowhere near as popular as Google Search or Bing, the two main search services in most parts of the world, they have shown that there is a market for this kind of service.

Oscobo is a new privacy-focused search engine that shares similarities with established players such as Startpage or DuckDuckGo.

The creators of the search engine promise that they don't track users and don't set cookies on user computer systems, and that users are not profiled in any shape or form.

Oscobo review

The search engine's current address is https://oscobo.co.uk/ which highlights one of the limitations in place currently as it is focused on users from the UK at the moment.

The site does not set cookies which you can verify by opening the Developer Tools of the web browser you are using and checking the resources of the site.

img src="http://cdn.ghacks.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/oscbobo.jpg" alt="oscbobo" width="635" height="461" data-lazy-src="http://cdn.ghacks.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/oscbobo.jpg" data-lazy-srcset="http://cdn.ghacks.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/oscbobo.jpg 960w,

While that is the case, results include English pages outside the UK as well. The results page looks like any other search engine for the most part but displays results from Twitter next to the actual results which can be interesting as these results are usually not as old (but may be more spammy).

img src="http://cdn.ghacks.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/oscobo-search.jpg" alt="oscobo search" width="637" height="444" data-lazy-src="http://cdn.ghacks.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/oscobo-search.jpg" data-lazy-srcset="http://cdn.ghacks.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/oscobo-search.jpg 1010w,

The top lists options to switch from Web searches to videos, images or news, and you may find advertisements listed on the results page as well.

The only information used to determine which advertisement to display are the search term and the user's locations (using the IP address), and both are not recorded by the search engine.

It is quite difficult to spot the ad as it uses the same format as organic results. Only the small "ad"  link underneath the description field indicates the advertisement.

Like DuckDuckGo, search results are taken from Bing/Yahoo. Using data from one or multiple of the big search engines out there appears to be the only financially viable solution for privacy-focused search companies.

It will be interesting to see how Oscobo will fare when they enter non-English markets, as localized Bing results are usually not that good.

Users who like the search engine can make it the default search engine for their browser, add it to their browser, or install the extension. The options are displayed on the homepage, but only if the browser used is supported.

The extension seems to be only available for Chrome-based browsers right now for instance.

Closing Words

Oscobo or DuckDuckGo? The two search engines are very similar in many regards: both use Bing to power their results, both don't track or profile users, and both use advertisement for revenue generation.

If you look closer, you find distinguishing factors. DuckDuckGo concentrates on the US market, while Oscobo on the UK (and in the future other European markets). DuckDuckGo certainly has the edge when it comes to features, its ! bang syntax is excellent for instance and Oscobo does not support a feature like the zero-click information that DuckDuckGo may display on top of the results.

[Source: This article was published in ghacks.net By Martin Brinkmann - Uploaded by the Association Member: Barbara Larson]

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