Search engines play a crucial role in our modern lives. They combine the roles of libraries and librarians, confidantes, friends, parents and mentors, professors, and every other place you might turn to find answers. In fact, according to the Pew Internet research in 2011, 92% of adult US internet users use search engines regularly—and that number is most probably around 100% today.
Google, of course, leads the pack with almost 76% of the search engine market share, with Bing number two at 8.3%. Then it’s Baidu with 7.5% and finally Yahoo at 6.6%.
But have you ever considered how much we use it in our daily lives? Every time we look for anything, every time we have an idea or a personal question, we go to search engines first. They know our life stories, our secrets, our everything. And if they were to collect data about every single search we make, that could be a lot of power for a company to have.
But which search engines collect your data? And what kind of data do they collect? Are there any that respect your privacy? Today we’ll answer those questions.
Essentially, all the big search engine names are busy collecting as much data about you as they can. Whether you use Google, Yahoo, Baidu or Bing, you’re still being tracked.
They will log your IP address, your search history, and track you across the internet.
Using these, Google and other search engines can create surprisingly accurate profiles about you to sell to advertisers or to use in their other services.
Google seems to be the worst offender, not just in tracking your browser and search history. In 2013, Google admitted to using those Street View cars to not only get pictures of the road, but also to steal usernames, passwords and other sensitive information straight from people’s homes.
Popular search engines are in many ways taking part in unethical practices. Because of the general economics law of “There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” meaning you don’t get something for nothing, we are trading our privacy for free things. Free things like internet browsers, mobile operating systems, email services, search engines, social media, and all other things.
Nevertheless, there are other, non-major search engines out there that respect your privacy. The most popular and widely trusted of these is DuckDuckGo.
It has the same simple aesthetics as Google’s homepage. Of course, it goes without saying that the search results will be different than Google’s, and there won’t be any personalized results.
For even greater privacy and protection, you should use a VPN (Virtual Private Network), such as NordVPN, which anonymizes you. NordVPN reroutes your traffic through a server of your choice, so that it will seem that you’re actually connecting from that server’s location, rather than from your true location.
Combined with DuckDuckGo or a similar search engine, you will enjoy a secure and private online experience.