Internet privacy is far from a guaranteed assurance to users. What once was a venue of anonymity is now an almost guaranteed way to have your information, searches or other pertinent data taken. What makes the landscape bleaker is the knowledge that most of us can't escape from the giants that are practicing these actions. When Google stepped up its efforts to create "a simpler, more intuitive Google experience," our privacy took a significant hit in the process.
Since that time, the consolidation of all a user's Google efforts into one account led to several in the tech community to speak out. While an opt-out option is available for Chrome users it is not highly publicized. If you use a Google product it will almost always be absorbed with your other accounts eventually.
This has led to targeted ads, more personalized web searches, and data integrated into searches. All of this is praised by Google. Others claim this leaves users susceptible to their pertinent information finding its way out to the Internet. Location, sexual orientation, age, health, and several other personal factors can now be accessed much easier than before.
All this has led to an increased demand for privacy. With 73 percent of Americans claiming to be “not ok” with privacy being infringed during searches, alternatives are receiving more consideration. While not all equal, these three options have gotten praise as being leaders in restoring a bit of privacy to your searching.
Receiving a healthy amount of press lately has been the #12 most popular search engine way removed from the tech giants in Silicon Valley. The Pennsylvania based search engine first launched in 2008 with a simpler plan to create better search results.
However, after AOL's security breach in 2005, priorities began to change. When AOL accidentally released a text file containing 20 million search query's from 650,000 AOL users, many took notice, including DuckDuckGo. While the error was corrected quickly, the damage had been felt across the tech community. Soon after, privacy became the top priority for the company and Founder/CEO Gabriel Weinberg.
After the NSA's PRISM announcement in June 2013, traffic jumped by 50 percent for DuckDuckGo. Soon, people were taking notice of their model that “Google Tracks You, We Don't.” That partnered with the company's heightened advertising and it came as no surprise that the company is now handlingan average of 4.7 million searches per day.
While this is far behind Google's three billion searches per day, it could be an interesting statistic to continue monitoring over a long period of time. Some tech experts believe this to just be a blip in the radar. However, if privacy concerns continue to escalate, a proven search engine like DuckDuckGo could be one of the top companies to benefit.
Ever since it stopped tracking IP addresses in 2009, Ixquick has been a beloved alternative to many users looking for answers. The meta search engine has taken pride in its ability to provide a more accurate search for its users than any other search engine. While this is subjective, it does hold validity in its ability to provide a private search experience for heir users. This is a feeling that can usually be found in glowing reviews by users all over the web.
What makes Ixquick so popular is that it does the searches for you. By acting as a middle man, Ixquick searches Google and other search engines to create the best search for the user. By doing this, the user's privacy stays intact with a concise search at their disposal.
Furthermore, if you are looking to see the benefits of using Ixquick, look no further than the top of your search. At the top, you will always find a top 10 list explaining how a user is protected with the search engine. Since the privacy issue boom, Ixquick (and it US page 'Startpage') has benefitted from a 400 percent traffic increase. This puts its numbers around the same daily search average as DuckDuckGo, about 4.5 million searches per day.
Built upon the concept that “Unwanted tracking is not cool” Disconnect has seen over one million users sign up for its proxy search service. For those that are too attached to their beloved Bing or Google Disconnect may be the best option for them. By routing information through a proxy server, the user's data goes unseen by the search engine. This is because it appears as if Disconnect is doing the search while the user can continue to use their beloved search engines.
For a layman trying to understand the need for these security measures, Disconnect's Search video does an excellent job of spelling out the details. Some reviews have claimed that the app “black lists” certain websites that should be excluded. Be mindful of this when trying to purchase concert tickets or when doing similar activities where your information may need to be given. While the app does cost some money, it is a pay as you want software that includes an option to allocate your money to charity as well.