Earlier, we had a very brief discussion here regarding privacy on the internet.  The bottom line is that your computer is most likely on a government watch list if only because your search engine is collecting everything about your time online.

If that seems extreme, then consider this.  On Sunday you did a search on your Chrome, Safari or Opera browser using their search engine.  Let's say you searched for red widgets.  On Monday, you open your browser and go to a well known page such as Breitbart.  Lo and behold, somewhere on that page are ads for red widgets.  "How do they know?" you wonder.  They know because the U.S. does not do a good job of mandate protecting your information on search engines.  They know because they collected your info, what search results you opened, what info you may have added when registering for retail sites like Amazon.  They know a lot more about you than maybe your spouse!!

That is why we are sending this info to you - so if you don't want gov or sites you visited to collect and store data about that last search for a new 9mm hand gun, use a better search engine!

If you think DuckDuckGo or Startpage are still private, think again.  They are not telling you they are also collecting your info.  If you care about such things as the right to privacy in your private life, change search engines.  Also, we suggest you abandon Chrome, IE and most browsers in favor of something else.  For most users, Firefox is a better consumer browser. They claim to be constantly improving their service on privacy issues.  There is no perfect browser or search engine but there are some really bad ones.

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Private Search Engines

his new and improved guide aims to be the most in-depth resource available (6,000+ words) on private search engines. Below we’ll take a close look at the best private search engines for 2019, as well as examining other aspects of private search and keeping your data safe from third parties. (November 2019 update)

Search engines may help you find what you’re looking for, but it often comes at a price: your privacy.

Most of the big search engines today are essentially data collection tools for advertising companies. Collecting your private data helps these companies to make money on targeted ads, which is a booming industry. Unless you are using a private search engine, your data is ending up in the hands of third parties and you are the product.

Here is the information being collected by some of the larger (not private) search engines:

  1. Source IP address
  2. User agent
  3. Location
  4. Unique identifier (stored in browser cookies)
  5. Search queries

Using a search engine can disclose highly personal information about you, such as medical issues, employment status, financial information, political beliefs, and other private details. This data, of course, will be collected, stored, and linked to your data profile. The only way to effectively “opt out” of this, is to keep your data safe and out of the hands of the data collectors.

In this new and improved guide, we’re going to take a deep dive into the world of private search engines, while also covering some FAQs and best practices for keeping your data safe and private. Table of contents:

  1. Best private search engines for 2019 (we’ll examine 13 different search engines)
  2. How do private search engines make money?
  3. DuckDuckGo vs Startpage
  4. Are US-based search engines safe?
  5. How to keep your searches private
  6. Considerations when choosing a private search engine

All recommendations in this guide are my own opinions based on extensive testing and research. Sven Taylor, author of this article

Continue reading and learning about better ways to be online

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Replies to This Discussion

Yes, that is my experience with DDG lately.  I didn't know about the sale to others.  I will get off that right away and I liked that swisscow one.  Thanks for the heads up.

How do you know that duckduckgo is collecting and selling my info?

"Sutton's Law" -- In the 1930s, when a reporter asked Willie Sutton, "Why do you rob banks?"  (See, the media hasn't been too bright for a LONG time.)  Willie replied, "That's where the money is."  If you take that law and add, "Everyone has his price."  You'll understand the issue.

Enterprises, in this case, Search Engines will eventually go where the money is.  No matter what moral position the original or core-group search engine founders may take, large piles of money either erode that morality or drives them to sell the company to someone without it.  So it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Build an effective search engine that DOES NOT track or abuse its patron users.  Continually enhance the search engine's abilities and features.  Attract a significant number of faithful users.  Repeat the last two steps as frequently as possible.  Eventually, get noticed by BIG money (power).  Succumb to the temptation of greed (or cash out of the business).  BOOM, we have a new and improved invader of personal data and preferences that DOES track and abuse its patrons.

We are not going to escape it, we can only hope to stay ahead of it.  By doing so, we sacrifice the effectivity and features we've grown to live without, but as the "safe" engine begins to provide those things, our anonymity and secrecy decay.

We can run, but we can't hide.  So...  Dress warm and keep moving.  Some people will continue to find ways to innovate while others will continue to find ways to violate.

When 5G technology is complete along with smart cities, All privacy will be wiped out!!

Good stuff...thanks!

Probably the biggest leak is your Domain Name Server  or commonly referred to as a DNS server.  If you are using any ISP, such as Cox, they usually have their own DNS server that is used to resolve the name of a site to it's IP address.  For example, google.com resolves, at this time, via the 'ping' command responds with

PING google.com (172.217.4.142) 56(84) bytes of data.

It tells you the actual IP of the site, which is how the machines find a site. Cox DNS servers are ICANN controlled servers.  Not only are all these servers censored, all traffic is logged.  When you enter a name such as google.com, your ISP is routing you to their DNS, of course tracking whatever you enter.  Try entering a bad name and see if your ISP comes back with something other than a 404 error. If so, they are probably tracking you, since you should get a 404 error, meaning there is no DNS entry for that site.

Firefox is not a search engine.  When you run any search engine, it's running a program (or application if you wish) on another machine.  Most things on your machine are available to browsers by design.  Run ipleak.com and see what information is returned, via your browser query.  The link is actually via ipleak then selecting IP Report.  The above is a direct link.  If you go to a site like this one, and it logs you in without a name and password, they have your number, usually simply by the cookie stored on your machine.

As you can see, the browser knows your OS, the date and time, browser type and many other things.  Using normal available data in your browser they know your time zone and probable your city.  So if you run some type of VPN, it's usually detectable simply via date and time differences. If the destination site time is different from the local time on your computer, it's probably a good guess you are vpn'ing to them.  There are also many types of software that are problems, as you can see via the iplead.com site.

I use a VPN and I come out in places like Germany or the Ukraine.  If my local time is not their time, I'm from somewhere else and probably using a VPN service.  When I run my VPN, I log in as another user on my computer, and that users Firefox is configured to clear cookies on exit.

Trade offs with search engines are also a consideration.  Here is Visual Capitalist compilations of lines of code (LOC) for various products.

Google has about 2 billion last time I checked.  Most are in the 50k -300k range.  Run a query on Google then on DDG and you'll quickly see that not only that google gives more targeted results with many more search options.  It is also wired into Google Analytics that tracks web activity on 30 to 50 million web sites knowing when and when you are there.

The EU has much better laws to make personal data harder to get and use.  Trump has killed Net Neutrally making more of this data available for commercial use and how ISPs can use things like throttling of your data to get more money out of commercial companies giving them more bandwidth over you.

IMHO, use a VPN, change your DNS server (usually in your router) and realize you are probably tracked.  With all the precautions I take I know I'm tracked.  I just try to make it more difficult. The Onion Relay (TOR) was designed by our military to be anonymous, but it's not 100 percent reliable either.

If you want these things, you have to pay for them, as free sites are really not free to run and programmers are not low cost.

You MUST assume you are tracked.

yeah, well, we all know that Firefox is a browser,not a search engine.  Duckduckgo and google are search engines on browsers like Firefox or Chrome.  OK, that is cleared up.  I always use VPN after AFA posted about them some time ago and change my out of country location from time to time. but not all VPNs are alike so it pays to do a little looking around.  No free ones are worth anything.  I've looked around for different search engines and most will tell you how they work to get results.  I don't touch google if I can avoid  it and I get a lot of 404 messages.  I don't miss getting thousands of results and most of us tap on whatever shows up at the top of the list.  Thks for explaining that.  Can you be specific on how to change the DNS?  Do they all work the same or does it matter which provider we have?

I think most users are disinterested in making changes from what comes with their computer.  That is a mistake I think.  Maybe this post will get their attention.

Thkx to AFA for opening this can of slimy worms.

I look at what data the VPN keeps.  I use Air VPN out of the UK, as they only keep an email, password and expiration date of the service.  They do no logging of your activity.  On computers and phones you load the app to 'tunnel'.  This allows encryption to be from your computer to your end location via the Air VPN DNS server which is not censored.

Since you always go through your ISP, it ensures that the transaction is not seen by your ISP unencrypted.  So what controls the VPN locally is the application on your machine which can 'lock' or block all other access from your computer so you don't have software running that could be accessing the network from your machine, compromising your VPN.

When you run normally in your home, your only interface to the outside Internet is the router.  This is where you can change your router from using the DNS server that your ISP has set as a default when it's initially brought it up for the first time.  It's lost without a DNS service, unless you know the IP address of where you wish to go.

There should be at least two DNS entries for the WWW (WAN) and another for a local DNS server.  One of my machines is running a Linux DNS server, so my internal DNS is set to my server internally.  This allows naming of local machines so you don't have to remember other IPs on your local network and will resolve local names when you enter into your local network via the WWW.

Locate a DNS server by searching for something like "uncensored DNS servers" and you will get a list, check them out before you use them.  Pick one of them and log onto the routers administrator account.  Find the DNS entries and put your preferred DNS IP in that field. There are usually more than one, since one could be off line and fail when you enter a known name.  There are usually more than one IP for a given server. I believe I'm using OpenDNS which has 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220 which are Ivp4 and Ivp6 addresses of 2620:0:ccc::2 and 2620:0:ccd::2. Eventually Ivp4 addresses will go away.

On your router, find the WAN (wide area network) DNS entry.  There is also a local DNS entries for your local network. The WAN determines the proper DNS for the WWW.

The procedure is essentially the same for most router, aside from where they are.  Here is one explanation from Livewire. You can search for how to do this on your own router.

Until you get it up, write down your ISPs DNS before you change it if you have problems.

What ever DNS or VPN you use, check it out yourself, don't listen to me... :)

Hope that helps...

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