Google, Bing, Yahoo – all the major search engines track your search history and build profiles on you, serving different results based on your search history. Try one of these alternative search engines if you’re tired of being tracked.
Google now encrypts your search traffic when you’re logged in, but this only prevents third-parties from snooping on your search traffic – it doesn’t prevent Google from tracking you.
Its home page is simple and clean – even more so than Google’s.
Because DuckDuckGo knows nothing about you, it can’t serve different results to different users. You’ll get the same results as everyone else.
DuckDuckGo’s donttrack.us page explains search engine tracking and DuckDuckGo’s approach in an entertaining way.
If you prefer Google’s search results and just want more privacy, try Ixquick’s Startpage. Startpage searches Google for you – when you submit a search, Startpage submits the search to Google and returns the results to you. All Google sees is a large amount of searches coming from Startpage’s servers – they can’t tie any searches to you or track your searches.
If you’ve heard of Scroogle – a Google scraper that no longer exists – Startpage is a similar service.
Ixquick is the main search engine from the company that runs Startpage. Unlike Startpage, Ixquick pulls results from a variety of sources instead of only Google – this can be a good or a bad thing, depending on how much you like Google’s search results.
Ixquick and Startpage have essentially the same design. Ixquick includes the same privacy features Startpage does, including the Ixquick proxy links in the search results.
Blekko doesn’t go as far as DuckDuckGo and Ixquick, but it’s still a big improvement over Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Blekko does log personally identifiable information, but deletes it within 48 hours. In contrast, Google stores this information for 9 months – and then anonymizes it without actually deleting it.
You can disable the data collection entirely by enabling the SuperPrivacy setting. Blekko even lets you disable ads entirely.
Ask.com offers an optional AskEraser feature that you can enable from its Settings page. When you enable this feature, Ask.com will set a single cookie in your browser – indicating that AskEraser is enabled – and delete all other Ask.com cookies. With AskEraser enabled, Ask.com won’t store your search history except in rare circumstances.
Ask.com does clarify that your search history will be stored if a critical error occurs (logging will resume until the problem is solved) or if law enforcement asks Ask.com to log your search activity.
To surf anonymously everywhere — at the cost of slower browsing speed — try the Tor Browser Bundle.