Aviva Directory » Computers & Internet » Internet » Searching » Search Engines » Privacy Search Engines

This is a guide to privacy search engines, which are search engines that have a focus on protecting the privacy of its users.

Issues of search engine privacy are those that deal with user data collected by search engines. Such concerns may relate to the logging of individual search queries, browsing history, and IP addresses, as well as the placement of cookies, all of which have to do with user profiling and the collection of identifiable information on users.

Search engines claim that the collection of user data helps to provide better search results to the user, but the concerns are that they can also abuse this information, compromising the privacy of users by selling data to advertisers or making information about private searches available to various investigative bodies, governmental and otherwise.

It is common for search engines to publish privacy policies, which inform users about the types of data that is going to be collected and the purposes for which it is collected. Users rarely read them, however, and those who do won't necessarily understand what they are reading.

Most search engines do collect information about their users. This information is often stored in a database, and connected to individual users by way of a number rather than a name, as a sort of a nod toward privacy. This data may be stored for an extended length of time, often more than a year, and is used to personalize search results for users, and to target advertising. In some cases, data is collected even after the user has left the search engine site, through the use of cookies.

After performing a product search on a search engine, it is not uncommon for users to be confronted with advertisements for that product the next time they log in to their Facebook account. That is an example of targeted advertising.

Many people don't mind that a search engine is collecting data, and may even benefit from the personalization of searches. Others are annoyed, and even frightened, by the practice.

In order to meet the needs of the privacy concerned segment of the search engine market, many search engines have begun allowing users to opt out of behavioral targeting and to delete their search and browsing histories.

Other search engines have come on the market with a promise to protect the privacy of their users by not collecting data on its users, not retaining any data that might be collected after the user leaves the site, and not tracking its users. These search engines are the focus of this category.

There is a trade-off between privacy concerns and relevant results when it comes to using a privacy search engine, however. Startpage is well known for its provision of privacy searches. However, although Startpage uses Google results exclusively, search engine results from Startpage are apt to differ greatly from those received on the same query through Google. Another popular privacy search engine is DuckDuckGo, which obtains data from Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, Wikipedia, and several other sources while protecting the privacy of its users. Both of these search engines are loved by many, while others insist that they get better results from Google.

The focus of this category is on search engines or metasearch engines whose business model is one of protecting the privacy of their users. Given that we are not in a position to validate or substantiate claims that are made, those who claim that user privacy is central to their business model will be deemed appropriate for this category.



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