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Privacy Search Engines 2017 Group Review

Douglas Crawford

Douglas Crawford

December 23, 2016

Privacy search engines such as DuckDuckGo and Startpage are becoming increasingly popular. They usually leverage the big search engines in order to return results, but proxy search requests so that Google or Yahoo or Microsoft do not know who made the search. In other words, these see only that the search query came from the privacy search engine.

These privacy search engines promise to not log your IP address or any searches you make. Does this sound good to you? Good. The next question, then, is which privacy search engine to use…

Why privacy search engines?

The problem with most search engines is that they spy on you. This is their business model – to learn as much about you as possible, in order deliver highly targeted advertising direct to your browser window.

Google has even recently dropped its moratorium on combining what it learns by scanning your emails with what it learns about you through your searches. All the better to spy on you. Information typically collected and stored each time you make a search includes:

  • Your IP address
  • Date and time of query
  • Query search terms
  • Cookie ID – this cookie is deposited in your browser’s cookie folder, and uniquely identifies your computer. With it, a search engine provider can trace a search request back to your computer

This information is usually transmitted to the requested web page, and to the owners of any third party advertising banners displayed on that page. As you surf around the internet, advertisers build up a (potentially highly embarrassing) profile of you.

Of course, if Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo!, etc., know lots about you, this information can be (and often is) handed over to the police and the NSA.

Google transparency report

Google Transparency Report on the number of User Data Requests received, and the number (at least partially) acceded to

Indeed, it was only recently that evidence emerged showing Yahoo works hand in glove with the NSA to betray its users to the intelligence service.  Naughty, naughty.

The filter bubble

An added benefit of using a search engine that does not track you is that it avoids the “filter bubble” effect. Most search engines use your past search terms (and things you “Like” on social networks) to profile you. They can then return results they think will interest you.

This can result in only receiving search returns that agree with your point of view, This locks you into a “filter bubble,” where you do not get to see alternative viewpoints and opinions because they have been downgraded in your search results.

Not only does this deny you access to the rich texture and multiplicity of human input, but it can also be very dangerous as it can confirm prejudices, and prevent you from seeing the “bigger picture”.

DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo Privacy Search Engines

  • ProsPROS
  • No logs or tracking
  • Looks great
  • Discrete non-targeted ads
  • Bangs
  • Contextual filters
  • ConsCONS
  • US company
  • Uses Amazon servers
  • Yahoo results

DuckDuckGo is “The Search Engine that Vows Not to Track You.” Gabriel Weinberg, the CEO and founder of DuckDuckGo has stated that “if the FBI comes to us, we have nothing to tie back to you.”

It is a US-based company, and is the most popular and high-profile of the privacy search engines. Searches are primarily sourced via Yahoo, with whom DuckDuckGo has a strong relationship.

This is very worrying given recent revelations about its ties to the NSA,  but DuckDuckGo continues to promise that it does not collect or share personal information.

Aesthetics

DuckDuckGo sports a clean interface. I find its red, grey, and white styling and cutesy logo attractive and fun, although this is, of course, a matter of personal taste.

Search results

  • DuckDuckGo offers search suggestions as you type in a query.
  • Search returns are very fast. This includes image and video search returns.
  • Presentation of results is very clear.
  • Search filter categories include Web, Images, Videos, Products, Meanings, Definition, and News. Displayed filters are adaptive, and DDG will initially show results under the filter category that it feels is most appropriate to the search terms. Depending the filter selected, DuckDuckGo may display image, video or Wikipedia previews at either the top of the search page, or in a box to the right of the results.
  • Ads may also be displayed to the right of search results. Paid ads are clearly marked as such, are discreet, and are never mixed in with the “pure” search returns.
  • Image results, however, can only be filtered by size (Small, Medium. Large).
  • Video results display a thumbnail preview. YouTube videos can be played directly from DDG the website, but a warning alerts you to the fact that these will be tracked by YouTube/Google.
  • Results can also be filtered by country and date (Anytime, Past Day, Past Week or Past Month).
  • Subjectively, I find the quality of DuckDuckGo’s search returns to be very good. I have seen complaints, however, by others who do not find them as good as those of Google. This is one reason why “bangs” are so useful (see below).

ddg3

Here we can see both the contextual filter in actual (auto-direct to Products) and DDG’s discrete ads

How it makes money

DuchDuckGo displays ads alongside its search results. These are sourced from Yahoo as part of the Yahoo-Microsoft search alliance. By default, when advertisers sign up for a Bing Ads account, their ads automatically enter rotation into all of Bing’s distribution channels, including DuckDuckGo

Importantly, however, these ads are untargeted (they are displayed based on your search terms). And as already noted, there are clearly marked and are displayed separately from the “pure” search returns.

DuckDuckGo is part of the affiliate programs of Amazon and eBay. When you visit those sites through DuckDuckGo and subsequently make a purchase, it receives a small commission. No personally identifiable information is given out in this way, however, and this does not influence search result rankings.

Privacy

DuckDuckGo states that does not collect or share personal information.

  • An affiliate code may be added to some eCommerce sites (e.g. Amazon & eBay), but this does not include any personally identifiable information.
  • Being based in the US means that DuckDuckGo is subject to government pressure and laws such as FISA and the Patriot Act. This means that the US government could mandate that DuckDuckGo start logging its users’ activities. And prevent the company from alerting users to this fact via a Gag order.
  • DuckDuckGo uses Amazon servers. Again, this is a US company, subject to pressure from the US government.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report: A+

Gabriel Weinberg, CEO of DuckDuckGo, has contacted me regarding this article. Please see the Update at the bottom of this page for his answers to some  criticisms expressed here.

Features

In addition to its rather nifty contextual filters, the most striking feature of DuckDuckGo is “bangs”.

These allow you to search other websites quickly and easily. For example, typing !guk before a search query will return Google UK search results, and typing !a will search the Amazon store for you.

Note that bangs take you to the website in question. The searches are proxied, but if you are signed into Google (for example), then Google will know who you are and will record the search terms.

My thoughts

DuckDuckGo is, in my opinion, the best looking and most user-friendly privacy search engine out there. This makes it great to use, although some may prefer Google to the primarily Yahoo-based search results.

Bangs are a killer feature, however, and one that go a long way towards compensating for this issue. Just remember to sign out of your Google account before using a Google bang!

It is little surprise, then, that DuckDuckGo is so popular. But the fact that it is a US company should sound a note of caution.

Startpage (and Ixquick)

Startpage

  • ProsPROS
  • No logs or tracking
  • Non-targeted ads
  • Can proxy webpages
  • Based in Netherlands
  • Google results
  • ConsCONS
  • Runs servers in the US (but can you choose non-US servers)

Startpage and Ixquick are run by the same company. In the past, Startpage returned Google results, while Ixquick returned results from a number of other search engines, but not Google. The two services have now been combined, and both return identical Google results.

Although no longer actively supported, the old Ixquick metasearch engine is still available at Ixquick.eu. Interestingly, despite no longer being actively supported, Startpage has recently removed Yahoo results from the legacy search engine. This is in response to news that Yahoo has been helping the NSA spy on its users.

Aesthetics

The cloudy blue sky default theme doesn’t really do it for me, although this can be changed in the settings. Overall, there is nothing wrong with how Startpage looks, but I much prefer DuckDuckGo’s red-themed cutesiness.

Search results

  • Suggestions are not offered as you type.
  • Search returns are fast, but perhaps not as fast as those of DuckDuckGo (this is a purely subjective assessment).
  • Presentation of results is very clear.
  • Searches can be only filtered by Web, Images and Video categories. An advanced search option is available that allows you to specify a variety of search parameters, and you can filter results by time.
  • Ads are displayed above search results. These are clearly marked as ads, and are not mixed with the “pure” search results.
  • There are no additional filters for Images.
  • Video results display an image preview. YouTube can be played directly on the Startpage website, although you are warned that this is not private.
  • Search results are pulled directly from Google, and are therefore very good. This does mean, however, that information censored by Google is also censored from these returns.

startpage-1

Ads are more prominent than with DDG, but the ability to proxy webpages is great

How it makes money

Much like DuckDuckGo, Startpage makes money from ads and affiliate links. These ads are untargeted, clearly marked, and not mixed in with the “real” search returns. They are somewhat more prominently displayed than with DuckDuckGo, however.

Privacy

  • Startpage is based in the Netherlands, which has strong privacy laws.
  • It runs servers collocated in the US. These are owned and controlled by Startpage, and I am assured that they are secure against government snooping. If this worries you, however…
  • It is possible to use non-US servers only (or non-EU servers).
  • Webpages returned from searches can be proxied (see below).
  • Startpage is the only privacy search engine that has been independently audited.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report: A+

Features

Startpage’s killer feature is that, rather than visiting a website directly, you can proxy the connection. If you select this option, then a proxy server run by Startpage sits between your computer and the website.

This prevents the website from knowing your true IP address (much like a VPN), and from being able to use web tracking and fingerprinting technologies to identify and track you.  The downside is that pages load more slowly, since StartPage must retrieve the contents and redisplay them.

I must say that this is a terrific feature, and one that can greatly improve your privacy. Given its downside, however, you probably won’t want to use it all the time.

My thoughts

Startpage is not as pretty or user-friendly as DuckDuckGo. But thanks to being based in the Netherlands and having nothing to do with Yahoo, it should be more resistant to NSA spying than its US-based rivals long (if you specify non-US servers!). And  the ability to proxy web pages is an absolute doozy.

 SearX

Search

  • ProsPROS
  • Can be self-hosted
  • Choose which search engines to leverage
  • Can proxy webpages
  • No ads
  • ConsCONS
  • Public instances could be logged

Less well-known, but fast gaining traction with the security community is SearX. Not only is SearX fully open source, but it is easy to setup and run your own instance of it.

There is an official public SearX instance, or you can use one of many volunteer-run public instances. But what SearX is really about is running your own instance. This makes SearX the only metasearch engine where you can be 100 percent sure that no logs are kept!

Aesthetics

I would describe SearX as functional looking, rather than pretty. That said, the layout is clean, and results are displayed clearly. It is possible for hosts to customize their instances somewhat, although most instances look and feel fairly similar to the official template.

Search results

  • By default, SearX leverages results from a large number of search engines.

searx-search-engines

In Preferences, users can change which search engines are used

  • Search suggestions are not offered as you type, but are displayed to the right of your search returns.
  • Searches can be filtered by the following categories: General, Files, Images, IT, Map (using OpenStreetMap), Music, News, Science, Social Media and Videos. They can also be filtered by time.
  • There are no ads
  • Wikipedia entries are displayed to the right of search results
  • There are no additional filters for Images, although a preview is displayed when they are clicked on.
  • Video results display a thumbnail preview. Clicking on a video takes you to the website it is hosted on (for example YouTube or Vimeo).
  • Search results can be downloaded as a .csv, .json., or rss file.
  • As with Starpage, search results can be viewed proxied. This will “break” many websites, but does allow for a very high level of privacy.
  • Search results are as good as the engine’s selected. The official instance uses Google, Bing, Wikipedia, and a host of other first-rate engines by default, so the results are excellent.

searx-reults

How it makes money

SearX is an open source project run by volunteers. On the official instance there is no on-site advertising and no affiliate marketing.

Because it is open source, individual operators of public SearX instances are free to introduce their own finance models. But I have yet to find a single instance that is not 100 percent ad and affiliate-free.

Privacy

  • There is no way to know if a public SearX instance operator is logging your searches. And this includes the official instance.
  • That said, there is no way to guarantee that DDG, Startpage, or any other “private” search engines are not logging your searches either…
  • If you are serious about privacy, therefore, you should set up your own SearX instance. In fact, setting up your own SearX instance on a server that only you directly control is the only way currently available to guarantee that your searches are not logged.
  • This makes self-hosted SearX instances by far the most secure search engines available. Documentation for installing your own SearX instance is available here.
  • For the casual user, public SearX instances are unlikely to log your searches, and are much less likely to be monitored by the likes of the NSA than the other services mentioned here.
  • Just remember, though, that there is no way to be sure of this.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report for searx.me (the official instance): A. Note that each SearX instance (public or private) is different in this respect.

searx-reults

The are no ads, search suggestions are listed to the right, and as with Startpage, you can proxy webpages

Features

As with Startpage, the ability to proxy websites is a killer feature if you can live with it breaking many websites that you visit.

My thoughts

For serious tech-savvy privacy-heads, a self-hosted SearX instance is the way to go. Simply put, nothing else is in the same league when it comes to knowing for certain that your searches are not logged.

More casual users may also be surprised at how well the software works on public instances. My personal feelings are that these are much less likely to log your searches or be spied on by the US and other governments than DuckDuckGo, Startpage or Disconnect. But this is purely speculation.

Disconnect Search

Disconnect Search

  • ProsPROS
  • No logs or tracking
  • No ads
  • Choice of search engines
  • ConsCONS
  • US company (so beware the NSA)
  • Uses Amazon servers (so beware the NSA)

Before writing a Disconnect review, we knew the US-based company had made a name for itself with some excellent open source privacy-oriented browser extensions. One of these is the open source Disconnect Search add-on for Firefox and Chrome (a non-open source Android app is also available).

This browser add-on is still the primary way to use Disconnect Search, although a JavaScript web app is available. This mimics the browser extension, and allow you to perform web searches from the Disconnect Search web page.

Disconnect also markets a Premium VPN and online security app, with Disconnect Search functionality built-in. Please see my Disconnect review for more details on this.

Search results

  • Searches are usually made from the browser add-on.
  • You can select which of three search engines to query: Bing, Yahoo or DuckDuckGo (default).
  • Unlike the other privacy metasearch engines discussing this article, Disconnect does not display search returns on its own website. Results are simply routed through Disconnect’s servers to hide their origin, and are then opened in the selected search engine’s webpage.
  • Incognito mode searches are supported.

disconnect-search-1

The browser extension

How it makes money

Disconnect markets a Premium product (see review), but the Disconnect Search browser extension is free. It hides your IP when making searches, but then sends you direct to the selected search engine.  This means that Disconnect performs no advertising or affiliate marketing of its own when making a search.

Privacy

  • Disconnect is a US company, and is therefore not a good choice for the more NSA-phobic out there.
  • The browser extension is open source, but search requests can still be logged by Disconnect, as they are made through its servers.
  • Disconnect hosts its service on Amazon servers.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report: A (this is for the Disonnect.me website).

My thoughts

The Disconnect Search browser extension provides a quick and easy way hide your true identity whilst making searches using your favorite search engine.  The fact that Disconnect is US-based, however, is a major issue.

Honorary mention: Peekier

Peekier is a new no-logs search engine. There is not enough information about this service currently available for me to give it a proper assessment. It is worth mentioning, however, because of the attractive and innovative way that it displays search results.

peekier

Results are displayed as large thumbnail previews of returned webpages

In a field were where, if we are honest, most search engines look pretty similar, it is great to see a different approach. I therefore think it worth flagging up Peekier, and keeping an eye on the service to see how it develops.

Privacy Search Engines Conclusion

Using any of these services engines will greatly improve your search privacy. Crucially, your searches will not be recorded in order to build to help a profile that is used to sell you stuff. All the search engines I looked at in this article are easy to use and return good results.

DuckDuckGo, in particular, is extremely user-friendly. This makes it a great service for transitioning away from Google.

Will these services protect your searches from government surveillance (and the NSA in particular)? In the case of US companies, it is safest to assume not. But unless you are doing something very illegal, this may not concern you (although it should).

Startpage is non-US based, has been independently audited, and allows you to access websites with a great deal of privacy thanks to its proxy feature. It is therefore a much better choice for privacy-heads than DuckDuckGo.

Public SearX instances are less likely to be monitored than other higher-profile search engines, but they may be. It is also likely that you will know nothing about their operators. Running your own SearX instance on hardware directly under your control, however, is an extremely secure and private solution. And is therefore only one that I can recommend to serious privacy fanatics.

The fact the SearX has a great interface and returns on-the-button results from all the major search engines is the icing on the cake.

Update

Gabriel Weinberg, CEO of DuckDuckGo, has contacted me regarding this article. It is his firm (and I believe genuine) belief that DDG is as secure and private as a search engine can be (barring one that is self-hosted). And that my concerns about it being a US company and over its partnership with Yahoo are largely unfounded.

Central to his argument is that DDG keeps no logs. This means that it cannot be subpoenaed to provide what it does not have, and makes it irrelevant who it partners with. As no information exists about DDG’s users anyway.

Gabriel also pointed out the legal protections US citizens enjoy against government spying that are not afforded to other nationals, and that DuckDuckGo operates non-US servers. Users outside the US will mostly be directed to these when performing searches.

Now. I will go on record as saying that I think being a US company is a serious threat to privacy. This article is not the place to discuss such issues in detail, but look out for an upcoming article where I will dive into the subject head first.

Douglas Crawford

I am a freelance writer, technology enthusiast, and lover of life who enjoys spinning words and sharing knowledge for a living. You can now follow me on Twitter - @douglasjcrawf.

17 responses to “Privacy Search Engines 2017 Group Review

  1. With the latest announcements of Youtube’s newly appointed censorship police in the ADL, and anecdotal claims of their demonetization and censorship of YT creators, it’s spurred my interest in privacy. Youtube, owned by Google a la Alphabet is the largest internet company on the planet and knows the most about its users. I find myself in a “searching for alternatives to Google” state. I’ve been using Startpage exclusively for my personal searches for years, and Protonmail for my personal email. However the disadvantage of Startpage is its reliance on Google. Hence, what Google omits, so does SP; which Douglas pointed out in his excellent article. DDG seems like an excellent alternative with bells and whistles, but my reservations come with DDG being a US based company and housed on AWS.

    For my own internet habits, I think I’ll start with changing my homepage to Ixquick.eu and supplement my searches on DDG. I’m mostly concerned with maintaining personal privacy, limiting my exposure to Google’s all seeing Eye (shows some will only adhere to “Don’t be evil” for so long or under so much pressure), and steering clear of the US gov’s blanket data-mining people-profiling efforts.

  2. Great article. It was non-geeky enough for me to understand it, but provided exactly the details I was looking for. In this new world, privacy is the most valued commodity.

    As of 7/22/17 some new info on DuckDuckGo has emerged that they contributed $25,000 to a political group, Fight For The Future, which is funding street-level anti-Trump campaigns. Make of this what you will, but personally, I don’t like it.

    http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2017/07/21/fight-for-the-future-offers-15k-for-full-time-anti-trump-activists/

    https://www.fightforthefuture.org/supporters/

    1. Hi Matt,

      I’m glad you like the article, but for what its worth, BestVPN.com is also proud to be an official supporter of Fight for the Future’s campaign to prevent the Trump governmnet destroying Net Neutrality.

  3. Hi Douglas. Another great article. I know it’s been up a while now but hopefully my views will be aired.

    I may stand corrected, but I think people are getting the wrong end of the stick. When choosing a search engine, I do not think that any of the above search engines could hide searches from any Governmental bodies, but in the current world of privacy, the companies running the search engines may actually play on peoples minds by stating that “they can”.

    I think that what they do well at is hide people from advertisers and adverts, not necessarily Governmental bodies. It is these, especially the annoying ones that follow you around the Internet, build a profile on you, like Google, and then put up an, at times annoying, advert, is what users are hiding from.

    On that basis, ANY of the above search engines are good as they do not allow advertisers through with specifically tailored adverts.

    If a Governmental body wishes to obtain knowledge on a person I’m sure they could do so. All of the above search engines keep information of some sort for legal purposes, as stated in their privacy policies. However I’m sure that for advertisers, the information given would be far different (some of the above search engines you can even shut off adverts in their settings).

    So I think people should not worry unduly about hiding from any Governmental body, but instead concentrate on hiding from the advertisers and specifically tailored adverts of the Net (if they so wish). Any of the above are more than enough to do that. Yes, we all want to keep our Internet usage, and searches, as private as possible, but do only what you can and do not worry unneccesarily, as some businesses try to put forward.

    They should also ask themselves, not “Which of these search engines will hide me from the likes of the N.S.A. etc?” but instead ask themselves “Which of these search engines will give me the best search results that I am looking for?” and choose that way.

    1. Hi Rob,

      – Well… Startpage, for example, is based in the Netherlands, which has no mandatory data retention laws, little to no government surveillance of its own, and no track record of cooperating with the NSA or GCHQ. And self-hosting your own SearX instance is going to be pretty secure.

      I have no doubt that if a government is determined enough to spy on a specific individual then using a search engine such as these will not protect them, but I think they do protect against blanket untargeted “collect it all” government surveillance.

      – Both DDG and Startpage are insistent that they keep no personally identifiable logs, and contrary to what you say, are not normally required to do so by the laws of their countries (although a legally binding court order could change this).

      – Have you, by any chance, ever read George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four? Knowledge is power, and a population that believes itself continuously watched by a panopticon-like government is a meek and cowed population. I think it is vital to liberty and democracy that we resist mass government surveillance at all turns.

  4. You had me at “Startpage is the only privacy search engine that has been independently audited.”

    Changing search engines as we speak!

    Thanks so much for such a valuable – and clearly written, easy to undestand – article.

    Thanks also to @searx for hosting a Twitter feed that alerted me to this article.

  5. Hi Douglas. Great article as usual and always a good read! Looking around the internet, across twitter, various articles and forum boards (including the lady below, who happens to be a privacy consultant at startpage.com), there seems to be a “who is the best private search engine” war going on here between DuckDuckGo and Startpage.com, with both sides debating “who is the best alternative search engine to Google?” or “who is the most private?”.

    Should we be asking ourselves “which one do I chose – startpage.com OR DuckduckGo?”.

    Instead, I think the answer should be, not EITHER / OR, but BOTH startpage.com and DuckDuckGo should be chosen.

    Users forget that the privacy of both search engines can be enhanced through their settings. It is simple to do this on both.

    Instead of being at logger-heads with each other and asking which is the best one to use, we should all be using BOTH of these superb, privacy conscious search engines, INSTEAD of the tracking Google, Bing and Yahoo.

    They should be working together to promote each other and making the internet more private, not trying to out do the other one to win a ratings war.

    1. Hi Rob,

      Thanks! That is a great idea, and I like the attitude! People still need to consider which search engine they are going to use day-to-day, however…

  6. Hello Douglas, another great article. I just wonder if we are being a bit harsh on DuckDuckGo. Users keep raising the points about their partnerships with Amazon and Yahoo and the security surrounding this, but when opening DuckDuckGo with the browser extensions NoScript, Privacy Badger and Ghostery, nothing comes up in any of them, as surely would be expected if there was anything secretive there.

    Only NoScript, with a “Temporarily allow DuckDuckGo.com”, comes up. But there is no sub scripts or trackers after that, unlike, say, Youtube, which, after allowing Youtube.com, then throws up google.com, googlevideos.com and the like.

    The same is with startpage.com. As with DuckDuckGo, only the main domain script for startpage.com comes up in NoScript, “Temporarily allow startpage.com” no other script or tracker in any of the extensions.

    Both startpage.com and DuckDuckGo.com offer an SSL Labs rating, as seen in your article, of A+, higher than most other search engines.

    Can someone also please confirm what the story is regarding using US companies servers that are located on EU soil? If you have an EU IP address, then DuckDuckGo connects you to either Germany or Ireland. Do these servers run under the same privacy rules as startpage.com’s servers or are there different privacy laws for these US servers on EU soil? I wish someone would clarify these points.

    I’m not trying to say which is best here, I do not work for DuckDuckGo and I am not in any way trying to down startpage.com in any way, but it would be handy if some of the above points were also made clear and clarified for users to make up their own minds.

    1. Hi Alan,

      Thanks! Let me be clear – DuckDuckGo is vastly more private that Google or Bing etc. And despite its ties to Yahoo and Amazon, I still consider it a good privacy-oriented search engine. And one that is very accessible to the more casual user, which is definitely a big plus.

      Both the US Patriot Act and FISA permit the US authorities to access data held by US companies, even if that data does not pertain to US citizens and resides entirely outside the US. Please see this article for more details (and links).

      Microsoft is currently engaged in a bitter legal dispute over just this point, and in June last year won an important victory when a panel of circuit court judges found that the FBI needed a warrant (rather than just a secretly issued surveillance order) in order to access data stored overseas. The Patriot Act and FISA legislation still permit the issuing of such a warrant, however, and the legal battle continues.

  7. For me, DuckDuckGo is too much into the so called “Bangs”. They seem to imply that numbers for bangs are more important than privacy. Are these web addresses checked? Some of these bangs may lead, possibly, to malicious websites. They have also taken away the “Official Page” icon with searches which was useful.

    I now use StartPage.com purely because of their continual drive for privacy and using non-US servers servers (which, strangely, DuckDuckGo’s Gabriel Weinberg thinks does not necessarily make things more private?!)

    I do wish though that StartPage.com could have better “themes” rather than just merely black or white. Maybe Ms McIntyre above can get a nice theme going like DuckDuckGo has, rather than the blue font of Google? Thanks.

  8. Thank you for mentioning StartPage as a recommended private search alternative! Please note that StartPage offers users the option to choose non-US servers if they are concerned about US government surveillance.

    In addition, we are the only 3rd party certified private search engine. We submit to extensive 3rd party audits to assure our users we do what we say we do privacy-wise and on every level.

    We are proud to be recommended by privacytools.io and have an article that details more of our features here: https://www.startpage.com/blog/our-latest-developments/privacytools-io-recommends-startpage-for-private-search/

    Thanks again. We are glad we found your reviews and look forward to following your work!

      1. Hi Douglas,

        There is another important point to clarify: StartPage owns, controls and administers its own collocated servers in the US. The facilities have no way to log into them, and StartPage makes use of encryption in several ways, including at a network level, so sniffing the connection would not help. (Of course, these extra precautions are in addition to not logging any personally identifiable information of users.) Anyone concerned about US surveillance has the option to use non-US servers.

  9. Some time ago I changed the DuckDuckGo by StartPage because the search results of the StartPage are far superior to what I’ve been having with DuckDuckGo.

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