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The web is infested with marketers mining your data and targeting you for sales. Foil the snoops with the tracking protection and privacy-conscious search features offered by these secure browsers.

Online privacy is a major concern in the tech world, and by far the biggest privacy issues arise when you browse the internet. Why? Because online marketers of all stripes are keen to monetize you by following you around the web with tracking via cookies, your IP address, and other device-specific identifiers.

How are you being tracked right now?

Cookies are small bits of data that websites deposit in your browser’s storage to keep track of logins and remember your site activity. They’re essential to making the web more useable, saving you from having to recreate your login and actions every time you use a site. The privacy issue arises with third-party cookies—those that are dropped into your browser not by the site you’re viewing but by a third party (most often Google, Facebook, or advertising services) that other websites have access to for perusing your internet trail—are not the only threat to privacy. A more recent threat is fingerprinting, a way of using webpage headers and JavaScript to build a profile of you based on your system configuration. Your browser fingerprint can consist of your browser type and version, operating system, plug-ins, time zone, language, screen resolution, installed fonts, and more.

That means that even if you turn off third-party cookies (Google has stated it plans to remove support for them in its Chrome browser some time in 2023), sites can often still identify you via fingerprinting. In fact, fingerprinting is a more concerning privacy concern than cookies. You can delete cookies at any time, but, unless you get a new device, you can’t escape your digital footprint. Another issue is the long string of characters some sites add when you copy a web address. Those identify you as well, and a browser extension called ClearURLs can help protect this kind of tracking.

How can you prevent web tracking?

A browser can take measures to protect you against these privacy infringements, but note that private browsing mode—variously called Incognito mode, InPrivate, or simply Private mode—usually doesn’t protect you against tracking. This mode usually just hides your activities from the local machine’s history.

Some browsers, such as Edge and Safari, block known fingerprinters based on blacklists, and Firefox is working on a behavioral blocking system that alerts you if a site tries to perform actions that look like fingerprinting—for example, trying to extract your hardware specs using the HTML Canvas feature. That experimental Firefox tool removes identifying data used by fingerprinters. The Brave browser, Avast Secure Browser, and Apple’s Safari already have features that obscure data such as “device and browser configuration, and fonts and plug-ins you have installed,” according to Apple’s site. 

Another privacy protection landing in browsers such as Firefox and Edge lately is support for more secure DNS protocols. That’s the system of servers that your browser contacts to translate text web addresses into their number equivalents that web servers use. By default, your ISP’s DNS servers provide this translation, but secure browsers now use DoH (DNS over HTTPS) to both encrypt the connection and to prevent your ISP from sending your unfound browsing requests to their search providers. For more on all this, read How (and Why) to Change Your DNS Server.

How do you know if you are trackable?

The EFF (Electronic Freedom Frontier) organization publishes a Cover Your Tracks webpage to test your browser’s susceptibility to tracking and fingerprinting. It uses a real tracking company—the name of which it does not reveal—for its tests. Be forewarned: It almost always reports that your browser has a unique fingerprint. Other tools you can use to see how unique your digital fingerprint is included AmIUnique and Device Info.

If you still want to use Chrome or another browser without much tracking protection, you have recourse in plugins that may help protect your privacy, such as Decentraleyes, DuckDuckGo, PrivacyBadger, or uBlock Origin.

As with everything in life, there’s no such thing as perfect security or privacy. But using one of these browsers can at least make it harder for entities to track your internet browsing, to different degrees. As always, if you have better solutions or disagreements, feel free to chime in below in our comments section.

Apple Safari

List of Best Private Browsers

Apple Safari

 

Apple was one of the first major tech vendors to raise the profile of fingerprinting as a privacy concern, discussing it at WWDC 2018. The default browser for Apple devices, Safari, offers some protection against this type of tracking by presenting “a simplified version of the system configuration to trackers so more devices look identical, making it harder to single one out,” according to the company’s documentation.

Safari offers minimal settings for privacy and only gets a result of “some protection” and “some gaps” on the EFF Cover Your Tracks test. The “nearly” unique fingerprint result, however, is better than most browsers (even Firefox), for which the test reports “Your browser has a unique fingerprint.”

Platforms: macOS, iOS, iPadOS

Avast Secure Browser

Avast Secure Browser

 

Avast is one of the few browsers included here with built-in VPN functionality, but unlike that in Opera, using it will cost you $5.99 per month, with discounts for multi-year signups. Avast tells you that its VPN uses the open-source, industry-standard OpenVPN protocol. There’s a one-week free trial, too, that doesn’t require payment info, though Avast has offered free services before with questionable nonmonetary costs.

The browser also features built-in ad blocking, anti-phishing features, and a password manager. The default search provider is tracker-in-chief Google, but the EFF’s Cover Your Tracks tool reports strong tracking protection though with a unique (traceable) fingerprinting profile. The Chromium-based browser looks good and is compatible with most sites.

Platforms: Android, iOS, macOS, Window

Brave Privacy Browser

Brave Privacy Browser

 
Free at Google Play
See It

Brave is a browser with an emphasis on privacy and ad-blocking, but at the same time, it lets you earn cryptocurrency while you browse. Like most browsers these days (apart from Firefox, Tor, and Safari), Brave relies on a customized version of Chromium, the code that powers Google Chrome, meaning it’s compatible with most websites. Brave has higher goals than simply letting you hoard crypto or even protecting your privacy: Its creators want to achieve a revolution in the way web commerce works, with direct micropayments taking the place of rampant ads.

The EFF’s Cover Your Tracks tool reports “strong protection against Web tracking,” and the browser’s Shields block third-party tracking cookies and ads by default. Brave forces HTTPS (something common among recent browsers) and lets you choose between Standard and Aggressive tracker and adblocking. Brave also has advanced fingerprinting protections that do things like “randomizing the output of semi-identifying browser features” and turning off features commonly used to sniff device info. This meant that Brave was the only browser for which the EFF tool reported a randomized fingerprint.

To earn cryptocurrency rewards with Brave, the software periodically pops up an unobtrusive ad in a box outside the browser window—you can turn this off if you’d rather not see those. At one point, the Brave cryptocoin, called Basic Attention Token (BAT) increased by over 1,000% in value, though now it’s only up about 200 percent from its initial launch.

Platforms: Android, iOS, macOS, Windows

Bromite

Bromite

 

Bromite is an Android-only browser that’s a fork of Chromium—a fancy way to say it’s based on the code that underlies Google Chrome, edited to its needs. (Microsoft Edge is also Chromium-based.). According to the browser’s website, Bromite is a “no-clutter browsing experience without privacy-invasive features and with the addition of a fast ad-blocking engine.” It’s not on the Google Play Store, since it’s un-Googled to the extent the developers found possible. That means you need to allow installation of its APK (application package file) in your Android Settings.

Oddly, Bromium’s default search provider is Google, though you can change that to a private search provider like DuckDuckGo. Like Safari, Bromium earned the “nearly unique” fingerprint designation, compared to most browsers’ “unique” designation. That means it’s a little harder to identify you exactly. Bromite even offers its own Fingerprinting Mitigations Test Page, though interpreting its results isn’t intuitive. Otherwise, Bromite looks and works a lot like the Android version of Chrome.

Platforms: Android

DuckDuckGoo

DuckDuckGo

 

The famed private search provider also makes a standalone mobile web browser, and on the desktop,its DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials extension can help turn your browser into a privacy-focused piece of software. It blocks third-party trackers, switches your search engine to its privacy-focused one, forces sites to use an encrypted (HTTPS) connection where available, and lets you see a privacy score for sites you visit. The extension raised Chrome’s score on the EFF’s Cover Your Tracks tool to Strong Protection.

Platforms: Android, iOS, Extension for desktop browser

Epic Privacy Browser

Epic Privacy Browser

4.0

Like Opera, Epic Privacy Browser includes built-in VPN-like functionality with its encrypted proxy; this hides your IP address from the web at large. The company claims the Epic blocks ads, trackers, cryptomining, and even ultrasound signaling! It also blocks fingerprint tracking scripts and ads and prevents WebRTC. Unfortunately, the EFF’s Cover Your Tracks tool reports only partial protection against tracking ads and invisible trackers in Epic with default settings. (You see the same result that you get with Google Chrome: “Our tests indicate that you have some protection against Web tracking, but it has some gaps.”) When you tap Epic’s umbrella button to enable the built-in version of uBlock, the results improve to Strong Protection against web tracking.

The browser interface looks almost identical to that of Chrome, aside from the included privacy and proxy extension buttons. Otherwise, it lacks special convenience features found in competitors like Edge and Opera.

Platforms: Android, iOS, macOS, Windows

Epic Privacy Browser Review
Firefox

Firefox

4.5

Mozilla has long been at the forefront of trying to improve privacy on the web. The company even came up with the Do Not Track option for browsers, which Google swiftly rendered useless; that only makes sense for a company that bases much of its business on tracking users. Firefox was also the first browser with a private browsing mode that could hide browsing not only from people with access to your device but also from other sites.

Firefox’s Enhanced Tracking Protection’s Standard-setting blocks social media trackers, cross-site tracking cookies, cross-site cookies in Private Windows, tracking content in Private Windows, cryptominers, and fingerprinters. The EFF’s Cover Your Tracks tool reports “strong protection against Web tracking” at this setting. Strict mode blocks trackers hidden in ads, videos, and other site content. The fingerprinting protection currently uses a list of known fingerprint trackers, but Mozilla is working on a future update that will make your browser look more undistinguishable to thwart fingerprinters.

Platforms: Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, Linux

Mozilla Firefox Review
Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge

4.0

The accursed Internet Explorer is finally far in the rear-view mirror, and even its initial Edge replacement has now been replaced with a truly modern Chromium-based Edge. The Microsoft team behind Edge had privacy as a top goal when developing the browser, along with customization and productivity features like its Collections for web research. The browser continues to innovate as Windows 11 approaches, with vertical tabs, forced HTTPS connections, sleeping tabs, performance boosts, and new accessibility features like enhanced contrast.

For privacy, Edge includes tracking protection at a choice of three levels: Basic, Balanced, and Strict. According to an Edge blog post, all levels block “trackers we detect as cryptomining or fingerprinting.” But there’s no attempt to make the browser appear more generic and less identifiable as some other browsers included here do. Edge also supports Secure DNS. Not in its favor, Edge does offer to personalize your advertising in Bing and Microsoft News; you can turn this off and visit your privacy dashboard to check your settings.

On the EFF’s Cover Your Tracks test, Edge gets a rating of “strong protection against Web tracking” but indicates you still have a unique, and therefore trackable, fingerprint.

Platforms: Android, iOS, macOS, Windows. (Linux version in beta)

Microsoft Edge Review
Opera

Opera

4.0

Opera has a long history of innovation among web browsers. The Norwegian software company was the first to include tabs and integrated search in a web browser, and an Opera developer invented CSS, just for starters. Now, it’s the only browser with a built-in VPN, and the company offers a gaming browser called Opera GX. PCMag’s VPN always corrects me when I say that Opera has a built-in VPN, saying it should be called a Proxy, not a VPN. The distinction is that a standard VPN cloaks your IP address from all the traffic from your computer, while Opera’s feature only applies to the browser itself. Opera states that it’s a no-logging VPN, which is something you should look for when choosing any VPN. It uses AES-256 encryption.

Opera also blocks ads and trackers by default, but it doesn’t have specific anti-fingerprinting features, aside from the list-based tracker blocking. With its Speed Dial and sidebar of quick-access buttons to things like messaging services and frequently visited sites, Opera still stands apart from most browsers in offering unique conveniences.

Platforms: Android, iOS, macOS, Windows

Opera Review
The Tor Browser

The Tor Browser

3.5

The Tor (“the onion router”) browser’s slogan is “Protect yourself against tracking, surveillance, and censorship.” It’s the ultimate in privacy protection in a browser, and the EFF’s privacy test reports “strong protection against Web tracking.” It provides a multi-step encrypted route for your browser that makes identifying you very difficult. The reason it provides more privacy than a VPN is that your encrypted traffic goes through at least three nodes. The first node it goes through knows the source but not the destination of the traffic, the middle ones know neither, and the last only knows the destination—making it nearly impossible to trace the traffic back to you. In a VPN, the VPN provider has access to both the origin (your browser) and the destination site you’re browsing to after the traffic leaves one of the company’s VPN servers—so you need to trust the VPN company you choose. Just as VPN exit nodes are known—which enables Netflix and the like to block people from using VPNs—the destinations know you’re using Tor, but not your originating identity.

The downside? It slows down your browsing drastically—even more than a VPN would since it goes through multiple hops between your device and the internet. That said, installing and starting up the Tor browser has gotten much simpler in recent years—both used to be multi-step processes. What’s more, if you crank up Tor to its safest level of protection and disable JavaScript, a lot of common sites won’t run—basically anything that features interactive content, such as YouTube. Tor lets you access sites that use its own onion protocol that’s separate from the standard web, often called the dark web, in addition to providing privacy and access to the standard web.

An even more private way to run Tor is through Tails—a lightweight operating system based on Ubuntu that you run off a USB drive. Tails don’t save any unencrypted data from your browsing session and leave no traces on your computer’s drive.

Platforms: Android, Linux, macOS, Windows

Tor Browser Review
Vivaldi

Vivaldi

3.5

Vivaldi, an offshoot of Opera that also uses the Chromium browser code, is the ultimate in customizability among browsers. It also includes some innovative features like built-in translation, split-window view, tab groups, notes, a link sidebar, and mouse gesture support.

Vivaldi includes built-in ad-blocking and tracker blocking, though it doesn’t specifically attempt to thwart fingerprinters. As with the rest of the browser’s features, privacy settings are deep, broad, and granular, as you can see in the screenshot above. The EFF’s Cover Your Tracks test reported “strong protection against Web tracking” for Vivaldi with tracking protection on, though it still reported a unique fingerprint.

Platforms: Android, Linux, macOS

[Source: This article was published in pcmag.com By Michael Muchmore - Uploaded by the Association Member: Logan Hochstetler]
Categorized in Search Engine

[Source: This article was published in foxnews.com By Kim Komando - Uploaded by the Association Member: Daniel K. Henry]

Google isn’t everything. Yes, it’s the most powerful search engine ever created. Yes, it processes 40,000 searches per second. And yes, Google is the go-to search engine for the majority of us.

There are many Google resources that most people don’t know about, including Google’s advanced search features that let you narrow searches by time, file type and website type.

Still, Google doesn’t know everything, and there are some resources that are actually better than Google at finding certain information. Some sites index streaming movies, others archive GIFs. Other search engines may not have the omniscience of Google, but they are far more committed to your privacy.

Speaking of privacy, you can use Google Take Out to find out how much Google knows about you, and how much of your personal information is being tracked.

For those special searches, here are seven search sites you can use other than Google. These services cover a range of themes and needs, but you’re almost guaranteed to find one useful – and you might find yourself consulting it over and over. The best part: They’re basically all free.

1. Find streaming movies

The internet is overflowing with streaming services, and yet the question always comes up: what should we watch tonight? Sometimes we browse through the options, seeking a few favorite classics, or this year’s Oscar nominees, but we have to bounce from platform to platform just to find the title we’re looking for.

There's a search engine that will do the work for you. It's called JustWatch. This free website combs through streaming sites, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBO, YouTube, iTunes, Roku and Vudu, and it will show where a particular movie is available to stream (free or otherwise).

You can fine-tune and filter the results any way you like -- by year, rating, price, genre, quality and age rating. This is extra useful if you're wondering if a movie or TV show is something you can get for free on other streaming sites. JustWatch's timeline shows you what's new on any particular service at any given time. JustWatch isn't limited to home streaming services. It can help you find all the latest theater movies, and give you summaries, show trailers and buy tickets.

A similar service is GoWatchIt, which boasts 2.5 million movies and 50,000 regular users. The page is attractive and easy to use, and like its rival, GoWatchIt uses your location to determine which content is available in your region.

2. Find GIFs for email and social media

The right GIF is worth a thousand words. Unlike a photo, a GIF is like a tiny video – an animation, a clip from a movie, or a piece of news footage. GIFs often express an emotion or sentiment that no single photo or verbal comment can. Most of the time, GIFs are spit-take funny.

Social media service like Facebook and Twitter make GIFs easy to track down, but for the full catalog, Giphy is the place to go. The site is packed with easy-to-find GIFs: just enter your keyword in the search bar and zillions of GIFs pop up. Like any online search, broad topics are more fruitful than obscure ones; you’ll find plenty of GIFs for “balloon,” but few for “supernumerary.”

To share, click on the GIF that you want, find the "Copy link" button on the right pane, and choose the format. A short GIF link works best, because you can copy and paste the link to pretty much anywhere. Even better, via Giphy's iOS or Android app, you can instantly share any GIF via text messaging, Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter.

3. Search space images

No matter how old we get, the sky will always enthrall us, especially at night. This fascination led the U.S. government to create NASA in the 1950s, and to this day, the agency continues to shed light on outer space. But short of actually leaving the Earth’s atmosphere, the best way to explore the cosmos is through online videos.

The NASA Image Library has pictures across 60 collections combined into one searchable database. This is convenient because you don't have to hop from page to page just to zero in on what you're looking for.

Whether you search for pictures of our solar system, far-off galaxies or the moon landings, you can browse through NASA images – and you can download the images for free, share them on social media sites or publish them for your purposes, as all this digital content is in the public domain.

4. Free software for coders and developers

Most people will not appreciate the glory of Libraries.io, but coders and software developers definitely will: The website lists thousands of pieces of open-source software. These packages and tools are free to the public, and you can use for them for any programming project. The site has a wide selection of package managers including WordPress, PyPi, Rubygems, Atom and Platform IO.

A Libraries.io account also alerts you to software updates and sends notifications about incompatibility and dependency issues.

5. Make money using a search site

Microsoft developed its own search engine, Bing, as a direct competitor to Google. Nobody is going to pretend that Bing has the popularity or reach of Google, but the free service is still very powerful, and there is even an incentive to use it: Microsoft will pay and reward you for your web searches. Go to bing.com/rewards to sign up.

How does it work? The system is called Microsoft Rewards, which pays users in the form of Amazon, Starbucks, Burger King, Xbox, Microsoft Store or other types of gift cards, as well as sweepstakes entries. Related: Looking for ways to make money online? Listen to this Komando on Demand Podcast for legitimate opportunities.

After signing up for a Microsoft account, sign into Bing using the account and begin searching to earn reward points. The system then tracks your points in the upper-right part of the screen, so you can keep track of your earnings while you do what you normally do anyway: search with Bing.

6. Private search engine

At first glance, StartPage.com looks a lot like Google. It has the same search field, and the same bolded and underlined websites pop up, arranged by relevance and popularity. You may not notice a difference, except for the color scheme and the absence of Google Doodles.

But StartPage is designed to retain your privacy. The engine doesn’t collect data, doesn’t keep tabs on your movements, and it isn’t owned by a gigantic corporation. The site is designed to retain privacy, yet it retains much of the power and ease of use that Google does.

If you like StartPage, you can open an account and use its free email service. This is a terrific option for people who use search engines for very basic research and are concerned about exposing their personal information.

7. Search without being tracked by Google

Similar to StartPage, the purpose of DuckDuckGo is to retain privacy. The company proudly abstains from targeted ads – though it does have sponsored ads in the first one or two search results that are relevant to your keywords. DuckDuckGo has a clean interface and deftly aggregates digital news. The “meanings” tab is a nice touch, as it helps analysis the significance of search terms.

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call my national radio show and click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts.

Copyright 2019, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved.

Categorized in Search Engine

[Source: This article was published in proprivacy.com By Douglas Crawford - Uploaded by the Association Member: Edna Thomas]

Using a private search engine such as StartPage or DuckDuckGo is becoming ever more important. These usually leverage the big search engines in order to return results, but proxy search requests so that Google or Yahoo or Microsoft do not know who did the search. In other words, these see only that the search query came from the privacy search engine.

These privacy search engines promise not to log your IP address or any searches you make. Does this sound good to you? Good. The next question, then, is which privacy search engine to use…

Best Private Search Engine

Here are the best private search engines that are anonymous and make a great Google alternative.

Keep reading this guide to learn more about each private search engine in-depth.

What Does Google Know About Me?

The problem with most search engines is that they spy on you. This is their business model – to learn as much about you as possible, to deliver highly targeted advertising directly to your browser window.

Google has even recently dropped its moratorium on combining what it learns by scanning your emails with what it learns about you through your searches. All the better to spy on you. Information typically collected and stored each time you make a search includes:

  • Your IP address
  • Date and time of query
  • Query search terms
  • Cookie ID – this cookie is deposited in your browser’s cookie folder, and uniquely identifies your computer. With it, a search engine provider can trace a search request back to your computer.

This information is usually transmitted to the requested web page, and to the owners of any third party advertising banners displayed on that page. As you surf the internet, advertisers build up a (potentially highly embarrassing) profile of you.

Of course, if Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo!, etc., know lots about you, this information can be (and often is) handed over to the police and the NSA. So it's a good time to get a Google alternative.

Indeed, it was only recently that evidence emerged showing Yahoo works with hand in glove with the NSA to betray its users to the intelligence service. Naughty, naughty.

Screenshot 1

Google Transparency Report on the number of User Data Requests received, and the number (at least partially) acceded to

The filter bubble: what the internet is hiding from you

An added benefit of using a search engine that does not track you is that it avoids the “filter bubble” effect. Most search engines use your past search terms (and things you “Like” on social networks) to profile you.They can then return results they think will interest you. 

This can result in only receiving search returns that agree with your point of view, and this locks you into a “filter bubble,” where you do not get to see alternative viewpoints and opinions because they have been downgraded in your search results.

Not only does this deny you access to the rich texture and multiplicity of human input, but it can also be hazardous as it can confirm prejudices, and prevent you from seeing the “bigger picture”.

Startpage.com

Startpage2

PROS

  • No logs or tracking
  • Non-targeted ads
  • Can proxy webpages
  • Based in Netherlands
  • Google results

CONS

  • Runs servers in the US (but can you choose non-US servers)

Startpage.com and Ixquick are run by the same company. In the past, Startpage.com returned Google results, while Ixquick returned results from a number of other search engines, but not Google. The two services have now been combined, and both return identical Google results.

Although no longer actively supported, the old Ixquick metasearch engine is still available at Ixquick.eu. Interestingly, despite no longer being actively supported, Startpage.com has recently removed Yahoo results from the legacy search engine. This is in response to news that Yahoo has been helping the NSA spy on its users.

Search results

  • Suggestions are not offered as you type by default, but this can be enabled in settings.
  • Search returns are fast, but perhaps not as fast as those of DuckDuckGo (this is a purely subjective assessment).
  • Presentation of results is very clear.
  • Searches can be only filtered by Web, Images and Video categories. An advanced search option is available that allows you to specify a variety of search parameters, and you can filter results by time.
  • Ads are displayed above the search results. They are clearly marked as ads and are not mixed with the “pure” search results.
  • Video results display an image preview. YouTube cannot be played directly on the Startpage website for privacy reasons and will open in a new tab. 
  • Search results are pulled directly from Google and are therefore very good.

Startpage

Ads are discrete but clearly labeled

How it makes money

Much like DuckDuckGo, Startpage.com makes money from ads and affiliate links. 

These ads are untargeted, clearly marked, and not mixed in with the “real” search returns. They are somewhat more prominently displayed than with DuckDuckGo, however.

Privacy

  • Startpage is based in the Netherlands, which has strong privacy laws.
  • It runs servers collocated in the US. These are owned and controlled by Startpage, and I am assured that they are secure against government snooping. If this worries you, however…
  • It is possible to use non-US servers only (or non-EU servers).
  • Web pages returned from searches can be proxied (see below).
  • Startpage is the only privacy search engine that has been independently audited.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report: A+

Features

Startpage.com’s killer feature is that, rather than visiting a website directly, you can proxy the connection. If you select this option, then a proxy server run by Startpage.com sits between your computer and the website.

 This prevents the website from knowing your true IP address (much like a VPN), and from being able to use web tracking and fingerprinting technologies to identify and track you. It also blocks malicious scripts. 

The downside is that pages load more slowly since StartPage.com must retrieve the contents and re-display them. That said, the newly re-branded and redesigned "Anonymous View" is much faster than was previously the case. It also breaks websites much less because it allows JavaScript "while rewriting and 'redefining' JavaScript primitives to protect your privacy." 

I must say that this is a terrific feature and one that can significantly improve your privacy. Given its downside, however, you probably won’t want to use it all the time.

My thoughts

With its new re-design, StartPage.com matches DuckDuckGo in terms of prettiness and user-friendliness.

But thanks to being based in the Netherlands and having nothing to do with Yahoo, it should be more resistant to NSA spying than its US-based rival (if you specify non-US servers!). And the ability to proxy web pages is an absolute doozy.

DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo

PROS

  • No logs or tracking
  • Looks great
  • Discrete non-targeted ads
  • Bangs
  • Contextual filters

CONS

  • US company
  • Uses Amazon servers
  • Yahoo results

DuckDuckGo is “The Search Engine that Vows Not to Track You”. Gabriel Weinberg, the CEO and founder of DuckDuckGo, has stated that “if the FBI comes to us, we have nothing to tie back to you.”

It is a US-based company and is the most popular and high-profile of the privacy search engines. Searches are primarily sourced via Yahoo, with whom DuckDuckGo has a strong relationship.

This is very worrying given recent revelations about its ties to the NSA, but DuckDuckGo continues to promise that it does not collect or share personal information.

Search results

  • DuckDuckGo offers search suggestions as you type in a query.
  • Search returns are speedy.
  • This includes image and video search returns.
  • Presentation of results is very clear.
  • Search filter categories include Web, Images, Videos, Products, Meanings, Definition, and News. Displayed filters are adaptive, and DDG will initially show results under the filter category that it feels is most appropriate to the search terms. Depending on the filter selected, DuckDuckGo may display image, video or Wikipedia previews at either the top of the search page or in a box to the right of the results.
  • Ads may also be displayed to the right of search results. Paid ads are clearly marked as such, are discreet, and are never mixed in with the “pure” search returns.
  • Image results, however, can only be filtered by size (Small, Medium. Large).
  • Video results display a thumbnail preview. YouTube videos can be played directly from DDG the website, but a warning alerts you to the fact that these will be tracked by YouTube/Google.
  • Results can also be filtered by country and date (Anytime, Past Day, Past Week or Past Month).
  • Subjectively, I find the quality of DuckDuckGo’s search returns to be very good. I have seen complaints, however, by others who do not find them as good as those from Google. This is one reason why “bangs” are so useful (see below).

DuckDuckGo1

Here we can see both the contextual filter in actual (auto-direct to Products) and DDG's discrete ads

How it makes money

DuchDuckGo displays adsalongside its search results. These are sourced from Yahoo as part of the Yahoo-Microsoft search alliance. By default, when advertisers sign up for a Bing Ads account, their ads automatically enter rotation into all of Bing’s distribution channels, including DuckDuckGo 

Importantly, however, these ads are untargeted (they are displayed based on your search terms). And as already noted, they are clearly marked and are shown separately from the “pure” search returns.

DuckDuckGo is part of the affiliate programs of Amazon and eBay. When you visit those sites through DuckDuckGo and subsequently make a purchase, it receives a small commission. No personally identifiable information is given out in this way, however, and this does not influence search result rankings.

Privacy

DuckDuckGo states that does not collect or share personal information.

  • An affiliate code may be added to some eCommerce sites (e.g., Amazon & eBay), but this does not include any personally identifiable information.
  • Being based in the US means that DuckDuckGo is subject to government pressure and laws such as FISA and the Patriot Act. This means that the US government could mandate that DuckDuckGo start logging its users’ activities. And prevent the company from alerting users to this fact via a Gag order.
  • DuckDuckGo uses Amazon servers. Again, this is a US company, subject to pressure from the US government.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report: A+

Gabriel Weinberg, CEO of DuckDuckGo, has contacted me regarding this article. Please see the Update at the bottom of this page for his answers to some criticisms expressed here.

Features

In addition to its rather nifty contextual filters, the most striking feature of DuckDuckGo is “bangs”. 

These allow you to search other websites quickly and easily. For example, typing !guk before a search query will return Google UK search results, and typing !a will search the Amazon store for you.

Note that bangs take you to the website in question. The searches are not proxied, so you lose an element of privacy if you bang Google directly. Fortunately, there is a solution. You can combine bangs with Startpage.com (see review above) by typing !s or !sp, and because Startpage.com uses Google, you can have the best of both worlds.

My thoughts

DuckDuckGo offers good looking and easy-to-use interface, although some may prefer Google to the primarily Yahoo-based search results.

Bangs are a killer feature, however, and one that goes a long way towards compensating for this issue. Just remember that if you want to query Google and protect your privacy, it makes sense to bang into StartPage.com with the !s or !sp for Google search results in privacy instead of going to Google directly.

It is little surprise, then, that DuckDuckGo is so popular. But the fact that it is a US company should sound a note of caution.

SearX

SearX

PROS

  • Can be self-hosted
  • Choose which search engines to leverage
  • Can proxy webpages
  • No ads

CONS

  • Public instances could be logged

Less well-known, but fast gaining traction with the security community is SearX. Not only is SearX fully open source, but it is easy to set up and to run your own instance of it.

There is an official public SearX instance, or you can use one of many volunteer-run public instances. But what SearX is really about is running your own instance. This makes SearX the only metasearch engine where you can be 100 percent sure that no logs are kept!

Search results

  • By default, SearX leverages results from a large number of search engines.

Search results

In Preferences, users can change which search engines are used

  • Search suggestions are not offered
  • Searches can be filtered by the following categories: General, Files, Images, IT, Map (using OpenStreetMap), Music, News, Science, Social Media, and Videos. They can also be filtered by time.
  • There are no ads.
  • Wikipedia entries are displayed to the right of search results.
  • There are no additional filters for Images, although a preview is displayed when they are clicked on.
  • Video results display a thumbnail preview. Clicking on a video takes you to the website it is hosted on (for example YouTube or Vimeo).
  • Search results can be downloaded as a .csv, .json., or rss file.
  • As with Startpage, search results can be viewed proxied. This will “break” many websites, but does allow for a very high level of privacy.
  • Search results are as good as the engine’s selected. The official instance uses Google, Bing, Wikipedia, and a host of other first-rate engines by default, so the results are excellent.

Search results 2

The are no ads, search suggestions are listed to the right, and as with Startpage, you can proxy webpages

How it makes money

SearX is an open source project run by volunteers. On the official instance, there is no on-site advertising and no affiliate marketing.

Because it is open source, individual operators of public SearX instances are free to introduce their own finance models. But I have yet to find a single instance that is not 100 percent ad and affiliate-free.

Privacy

  • There is no way to know if a public SearX instance operator is logging your searches. And this includes the official instance.
  • That being said, there is no way to guarantee that DDG, Startpage, or any other “private” search engines are not logging your searches either…
  • If you are serious about privacy, therefore, you should set up your own SearX instance. In fact, setting up your own SearX instance on a server that only you directly control is the only way currently available to guarantee that your searches are not logged.
  • This makes self-hosted SearX instances by far the most secure search engines available. Documentation for installing your own SearX instance is available here.
  • For the casual user, public SearX instances are unlikely to log your searches and are much less likely to be monitored by the likes of the NSA than the other services mentioned here.
  • Just remember, though, that there is no way to be sure of this.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report for searx.me (the official instance): A. Note that each SearX instance (public or private) is different in this respect.

Features

As with Startpage, the ability to proxy websitesis a killer feature if you can live with it breaking many websites that you visit. 

My thoughts

For serious tech-savvy privacy-heads, a self-hosted SearX instance is the way to go. Simply put, nothing else is in the same league when it comes to knowing for certain that your searches are not logged.

More casual users may also be surprised at how well the software works on public instances. My personal feelings are that these are much less likely to log your searches or be spied on by the US and other governments than DuckDuckGo, Startpage or Disconnect. But this is purely speculation.

Disconnect Search

PROS

  • No logs or tracking
  • No ads
  • Choice of search engines

CONS

  • US company (so beware the NSA)
  • Uses Amazon servers (so beware the NSA)

Before writing a Disconnect review, we knew the US-based company had made a name for itself with some excellent open source privacy-oriented browser extensions. One of these is the open-source Disconnect Search add-on for Firefox and Chrome (a non-open source Android app is also available).

This browser add-on is still the primary way to use Disconnect Search, although a JavaScript web app is available. This mimics the browser extension, and allow you to perform web searches from the Disconnect Search web page.

Disconnect also markets a Premium VPN and online security app, with Disconnect Search functionality built-in. Please see my Disconnect review for more details on this.

Search results

  • Searches are usually made from the browser add-on.
  • You can select which of three search engines to query: Bing, Yahoo or DuckDuckGo (default).
  • Unlike the other privacy metasearch engines discussing this article, Disconnect does not display search returns on its own website. Results are simply routed through Disconnect’s servers to hide their origin and are then opened in the selected search engine’s webpage.
  • Incognito mode searches are supported.

The browser extension

The browser extension

How it makes money

Disconnect markets a Premium product, but the Disconnect Search browser extension is free. It hides your IP when doing searchesbut then sends you directly to the selected search engine. 

This means that Disconnect performs no advertising or affiliate marketing of its own when doing a search.

Privacy

  • Disconnect is a US company and is therefore not a good choice for the more NSA-phobic out there.
  • The browser extension is open source, but search requests can still be logged by Disconnect, as they are made through its servers.
  • Disconnect hosts its service on Amazon servers.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report: A (this is for the Disconnect.me website).

My thoughts

The Disconnect Search browser extension provides a quick and easy way to hide your true identity while doing searches using your favorite search engine. The fact that Disconnect is US-based, however, is a major issue. 

Honorary mention: Peekier

Peekier is a new no-logs search engine. There is not enough information about this service currently available for me to give it a proper assessment. It is worth mentioning, however, because of the attractive and innovative way that it displays search results.

search

In a field were where, if we are honest, most search engines look pretty similar, it is great to see a different approach. I, therefore, think it worth flagging up Peekier and keeping an eye on the service to see how it develops.

Privacy Search Engines Conclusion

Using any of these services engines will significantly improve your search privacy. Crucially, your searches will not be recorded to help build a profile that is used to sell you stuff. All the search engines I looked at in this article are easy to use and return good results.

Will these services protect your searches from government surveillance (and the NSA in particular)? In the case of US companies, it is safest to assume not. But unless you are doing something very illegal, this may not concern you (although it should).

Startpage is non-US based, has been independently audited, and allows you to access websites with a great deal of privacy thanks to its proxy feature. It is, therefore, a much better choice for privacy-heads than DuckDuckGo.

Public SearX instances are less likely to be monitored than other higher-profile search engines, but they may be. It is also likely that you will know nothing about their operators. Running your own SearX instance on hardware directly under your control, however, is an extremely secure and private solution. And is therefore only one that I can recommend to serious privacy fanatics.

The fact the SearX has a great interface and returns on-the-button results from all the major search engines is the icing on the cake.

Categorized in Search Engine

[This article is originally published in thewindowsclub.com written by Ashish Mohta - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Grace Irwin]

Google and Bing are the most popular search engines on the internet. They are very accurate and powerful, but then nothing is free. Just like any other website, search engines keep a tab on you. Whatever you search, you visit, what you look on the internet is tracked. This information becomes a data mine for advertisers if you don’t like that, in this post we are sharing some of the top privacy respecting search engines.

Best Private Search Engines

Everyone wants to maintain their privacy. Nobody likes getting followed. It is where we need search engines which can support that privacy. These search engines grew from being an experiment, and now they are becoming part of something important because of what they can do.

To those who still wonder if Privacy should be of concern? Then you can imagine if companies know about what you do on a day to day basis, they can predict what you might do, and influence your decision. That’s why so many people use a VPN. These VPNs make sure what you do on the internet doesn’t even stay with them.

Just before we start, do understand one thing. These search engines may or may not give you the results you have been used to in Google.

1] DuckDuckGo.com

Not only it doesn’t track, but it even also maintains privacy. Browsers are known to follow you even when you use them in private browsing mode. Apart from these, you can do a lot more using DuckDuckGo which is not possible using other search engines.

2] Startpage.com

It is one of the oldest Privacy based search engines which doesn’t harvest personal data. One of the most significant advantages is that they show search result same as Google. The team behind Startpage pay Google to use their API, but make sure to remove all trackers and logs.

When you click on the search result, you leave StartPage. It makes sure that websites do not get any data, track you.  They call it the “Anonymous View” feature.  You’ll find the element next to every search result.

3] Qwant.com

It’s a European search engine which doesn’t use any cookie and search history.  While they do make money through advertisements, they do not track based on your search queries. It includes No third-party cookies, trackers, behavioral targeting or campaigns mixing legit and promotional content (native advertising). They also have Qwant Junior which is for kids. They make sure to keep any adult content off the search results.

4] Swisscows.ch

Based out of Switzerland, Swisscows have their server and data centers. These computers are geographically outside of the EU and the US. It makes sure none of these countries can access their servers under any law. While they do not store any data from the visitors, they do save the number of search requests daily. It helps them measure overall traffic to evaluate a breakdown of this traffic by language and mere overall statistics.

5] searX.me

It’s an open source search engine which respects privacy. Technically it uses  POST request on every browser which makes sure nothing is logged. If you are a bit into tech, and programming, you can create your custom engine module.

6] Peekier.com

Just like its name, the website renders an image of the site you wish to visit. It gives you the freedom to read or view what’s on the website without visiting them. While it doesn’t use any cookies, it uses HTML5 local storage to store your settings such as layout, region or safe search.

7] MetaGer.de

It’s another open source search engine. It uses the Tor network to make sure search results are anonymous. These results are taken from a variety of search engines. They have positioned their servers in Germany where laws protect even the anonymous data recorded. The search engine use advertisements in the results to cover for the cost.

8] SearchEncrypt.com

The team uses a different way to keep your privacy safe. Whenever you make a request, it goes through encryption and then sent to their servers. The query then goes through the decryption process on their servers. Based on your query, the results are aggregated, encrypted and sent back to you. The whole process makes sure that you are nowhere in the picture. Your local browsing history for any search expires after 30 minutes of inactivity. The company uses sponsored ads on the search results page. It helps them to cover the cost of their servers; These advertisements do not track you.

9] Gibiru.com

Gibiru is a private search engine that offers anonymous and uncensored search engine technology. It is the only “anonymous search engine” available that includes a “Uncensored” optional feature. Gibiru provides a VPN service as well as uncensored search results.

These privacy respecting search engines are excellent alternatives for those who cannot or do not want to pay for VPN servers. They not only make sure that your queries do not get into the hands of anybody, but some of them also offer the same search experience as Google. While some of them do show advertisements, but they are native ads which displayed without any relevance to the search query.

Categorized in Search Engine

In partnership with academics from the University of Oxford, a London start-up has condensed the power of cloud based visual search technology to the size of a book. The Pholio device, which can safely store or access your media all in one place, allows an incredible level of search and discovery across your photos and home videos. The software in Pholio automatically checks all images in your collections against 20,000 in-built search terms, from ‘birthday’ to ‘christmas’ and ‘house renovation’.  By keying a relevant search term into a browser on a connected TV screen, tablet, phone or laptop at home, families can search for all sorts of things in their own photo collections – from day trips to Bangor to bungee jumps in Niagara. What's more, the technology within the Pholio box will evolve for individuals based on their specific interests and collections - each box will end up understanding different things depending on its owner. The basic Pholio device can store up to 500 gigabytes of data, whilst Pholio Pro offers a storage capacity of 2TB. Prices start at £199.

Pholio Press Release

UK START-UP CHALLENGES GLOBAL CLOUD SERVICES WITH A.I. POWERED PRIVATE PHOTO AND VIDEO BOX

  •          London based start-up takes on the likes of Google Photos with Pholio, a book sized in-home personal photo and video processing box
  •          Pholio provides private control and AI-powered, content-based search across the tens of thousands of digital photos and videos we have scattered across mobile devices, social networks, computers, and cloud backups
  •          Pholio’s built-in deep-learning algorithms can spot and instantly retrieve images which match any of 20,000 built-in descriptions. New content-based descriptors can easily be trained by the user based on example images in their collection or on the Internet 

In partnership with academics from the University of Oxford, a London start-up has condensed the power of cloud based visual search technology to the size of a book.

The Pholio device, which can safely store or access your media all in one place, allows an incredible level of search and discovery across your photos and home videos.

Simon Randall, CEO of Pholio, said: “Thanks to smartphones and mobile devices, we are creating more content than ever before.  The problem is that for every upload to the cloud or (yet another) sub-folder created on the computer, you could well be adding hundreds of files.  The chances are that many of these images and videos will sit for years collecting digital dust.  Searching for special memories and discovering those you thought were lost, is now easier than ever before.”

The software in Pholio automatically checks all images in your collections against 20,000 in-built search terms, from ‘birthday’ to ‘christmas’ and ‘house renovation’.  By keying a relevant search term into a browser on a connected TV screen, tablet, phone or laptop at home, families can search for all sorts of things in their own photo collections – from day trips to Bangor to bungie jumps in Niagara.

Pholio was trained in the lab by showing it millions of images with a wide range of content.  A custom set of deep learning algorithms has learnt how to create a unique summary of the contents of images so Pholio can recognise and classify faces, objects and scenes that it has never seen before. Pholio has been trained to recognise 20,000 search terms which can be used fully offline.  If Pholio is connected to the internet, owners can search for anything (Pholio can learn new search terms on the fly based on what users search for).

The technology within the Pholio box will evolve for individuals based on their specific interests and collections - each box will end up understanding different things depending on its owner.  It will be a boon for collectors and hobbyists who can train their systems to recognise the things they care about.  From stamps to birds, cars, shoes or handbags, the device allows detailed exploration and sorting based on what it learns about the collections.

Pholio is now taking pre-orders.  The Pholio device, with built-in search capabilities, is available from £199 for early orders.

According to estimates, a staggering 1.2 trillion photographs will be taken this year, double the number taken four years ago.  With many photographers owning a myriad of devices, from tablets to phones to digital cameras, Pholio is a perfect way of condensing and exploring important family archives.  The basic Pholio device will manage collections of up to 140,000 images, the equivalent of 875 standard photo albums [1].

Simon Randall added: “With the growing volume of data coming from imaging and connected devices in the home there is a critical need for local processing and control.  This will save cloud streaming costs, increase response speeds, and provide choices that don't require handing over control of your data.  Pholio is step 1 in our drive to bring data control and ownership back into the home through harnessing developments in deep learning technology that everyone can make use of.”

A short history of our photography collections

1850s                     The earliest photo albums created.  Owners often put the albums on display and they featured ornate illustrations surrounding the images.

1920s                     35mm film invented

1948                       First Polaroid camera launched

1997                       Philippe Kahn instantly shared the first pictures from the maternity ward where his daughter Sophie was born. He wirelessly transmitted his cell phone pictures to more than 2,000 family, friends and associates around the world. Kahn's wireless sharing software and camera integrated into his cell phone signalled the birth of instant visual communications. Kahn's cell phone transmission is the first known publicly shared picture via a mobile phone.

2000                       The first dedicated camera phone sold in Japan

2004                       Launch of Flickr

2005                       Dixons ends 35mm film camera sales

2010                       Launch of Instagram

2017                       An estimated 1.2 trillion digital images taken, scattering our collections worldwide

2017                       Pholio launches, bringing the photo album home

[1] Pholio: 500GB Storage-140k photos | PholioPro: 2TB Storage –560k photos

Estimate assumes Pholio is setup to store optimised photo thumbnails only and is based on physical photo albums which hold 160 photos

Source: This article was published photographyblog.com By Zoltan Arva-Toth

Categorized in Search Engine

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