If you’re concerned with how pervasive Google is across the internet and how much data it’s collecting from you on a daily basis (between ads, email, search, and mobile, it’s a lot of data), you may want to use a private search engine.
Private search engines, like DuckDuckGo and StartPage, work just like Google but don’t collect your search history or browser details. Here are a few reasons why you might want to make the switch.
It’s an easy switch (and it’s free)
Using a private browser doesn’t require any additional tools or software. Private search engines are free and all you have to do is type in the URL to use it. Or if you prefer things to be even easier, you can set your browser to automatically use the private search engine as the default search engine.
Your search results aren’t skewed
All the additional information Google collects is used to provide search results that are designed to get you to click on them, not necessarily designed to give you what you’re looking for. On private search engines, advertisers are incentivized to cater to what’s being searched, not the person behind the search, which may result in better search results for you.
Your search history isn’t tracked
What you search for is tracked and kept by Google and used (in combination with many other factors) to produce search results. And until recently, that data was kept indefinitely.
Advertisers will know less about you
Anytime you make a search on Google, your information is being collected and used for advertising purposes. This isn’t only your search history, but your browsing history, location, device, IP address, what you click on, etc. Private search engines collect much less information and don’t share it with advertisers.
You’ll minimize your online presence
Every time you interact with Google’s search engine, you’re helping it build your profile on you. This can be done directly if you’re signed into Google, or indirectly, as the information it’s compiled on you thus far can still be used by advertisers looking for a specific audience to target.
Law enforcement can’t grab your data
All the data that Google keeps on you – search history, location data, etc.— is subject to law enforcement requests. That means they can ask for your information, without your knowledge, if they think it can help with a current investigation. However, because private search engines don’t collect the data in the first place, there’s no risk of that data getting into law enforcement’s hands.
Using a private search engine
We recommend testing out a private search engine, such as DuckDuckGo, every now and then so you can get used to using a non-Google search engine. Sometimes you may not see a difference in search results, and other times, you may prefer one over the other. For example, your location data may be helpful when searching for a restaurant, so you may want to use Google in that case because it’s more accurate.
However, it’s worth breaking the habit of always using Google and giving it more and more information about you. Using a private search engine is helpful for preserving your privacy and you may find that you prefer it because it gives you more ‘honest’ results, not just sponsored links trying to get into your wallet.