Search Privacy?

Use of search engines that don’t track appears to be on the increase judging from this Forbes article.

Why Traffic To These Google Alternatives Is Soaring by Adam Tanner, Forbes (Feb 10)

In early 2013 traffic doubled at Ixquick and Startpage and climbed at DuckDuckGo. Mind – Google in December 2013 still had 67.3 % of the US market at 12.3 billion searches a month – and DuckDuckGo around 135 million.

How do these privacy friendly sites work? Startpage uses Google results which it buys from the company (in a slightly less user friendly interface); its sister company Ixquick, as well as rival site DuckDuckGo, present results compiled from a series of different search engines. For example, DuckDuckGo says its sources are its own web crawler, Yahoo!, Yandex, WolframAlpha, Bing and crowd-sourced sites such as Wikipedia.

Google declined to answer Adam Tanner’s questions about privacy and Google’s use of search records.

Safe Searching with Ixquick

For fully private searching, head to Ixquick and its sister site, Startpage. These do not record IP address or track search queries. The only cookie it uses is to save search preferences you set up.

Ixquick used to search several engines at one time. These are no longer shown as choices but stars on results indicate Blekko, Gigablast, Yahoo as current sources. Some grouping is still available by selecting Power Refinement on the Settings page – it “enables clustering of shown web results”.

Startpage forwards your query to Google – without your IP number – and returns results free of the personalization that Google applies.

“Search Suggestions” is an option on the Settings page for both. Ixquick doesn’t use a log of user queries as other engines do, but picks from broad resources on the web such as dictionaries or common pages.

Other security features include secure socket layer, and not passing  search terms to websites.

Usage of Startpage climbed to 2 million queries a day in mid-2012.