- Internet & the Web
What is the Best Cloaked Search Engine
Do No Evil?
Why Not Google
When I first started to use the internet I only went to sites that I knew the address of. My knowledge of the net was limited to Hotmail and one or two other well know internet addresses, then I was introduced to internet search engines.
Alta Vista was suddenly my portal to the world. With this simple piece of knowledge the pre millennium internet was my oyster.
Then I discovered Google with its impressive and simple search and I was hooked. Combined with its core value of "do no evil" and I was signing up to all things Google.
Because as we all knew, Microsoft was the evil that Google was saving us from.
But like all major corporations, with the money came the change of culture. No longer was the do no evil mantra a core value, it had been replaced with the "how much is that worth to us" core value of every corporate giant.
Then the final straw came with the revelations of Edward Snowden which when boiled down, showed Google as a willing participant along with several government agencies to gather as much information about you as they could and use it in any way they wished. You had officially lost any right to privacy.
Every search you did on the internet using a Google product was catalogued, stored and ready to be used against you.
At this exact moment in time I decided that I needed to find a search engine that didn't store every nuance of every random search I enter in Google.
Is this because I have something to hide? Nope. It's because I subscribe to the basic principle of privacy, and if Orwell's 1984 has taught me anything, it is that the more information a faceless beauracrat has on you, the more guilty you will look.
I needed a new internet search engine that had the same high regard for my privacy as I did.
So what is the best cloaked search engine for someone like me?
1. Duck Duck Go
has quickly become my go to search engine. When you use Duckduckgo none of your personal information is stored. IP addresses, previous searches, auto complete etc. are just devices that are used to build up a personal profile of who you are and what you use the internet for. DuckDuckGo.com
At its least intrusive, this information is a goldmine for advertisers who wish to target you and at its most insidious it can be used by any organisation to profile you and take action based on this profile.
If everyone today used Google and its array of applications, we would suddenly be so close to Orwell's 1984 that it sends a shiver down my spine.
As for Duckduckgo, it has risen from humble beginnings in 2008 and is now ranked the 657th (2014) most popular website on the internet.
During its rapid rise, Duckduckgo has remained true to its initial aim of protecting the privacy of its users, as the founders have said, if we don't collect or store any information on our users, then it doesn't matter who knocks on our door. We have nothing to give them.
1984 - A Future I Want To Avoid
Every time I read this classic tale I fear I see more and more of the present revealed. If you haven't had the eye opening pleasure of this book, I highly recommend that you do. Once you have read it you will never look at the world in the same way again.
is a Dutch based search engine that bills itself as the most private search engine on the web. It backs up this claim with a series of strategies to ensure that no one other than you knows what you are looking for on the internet. Ixquick.com
The first defence is its Dutch heritage. As such it isn't accountable to organisation such as the USA's NSA or any other American security organisation. Also you will find that the Europeans are a lot more serious when it comes to an individuals right to privacy.
Ixquick also follows the same protocol of Duckduckgo in that it doesn't register your IP address, it doesn't insert cookies onto your computer and it doesn't store any data on what you have searched for.
It even goes to the level of submitting your searches through a proxy server to mask your identity even more.
Ixquick was awarded the first European Privacy Seal for its internet privacy practices in 2008 and over the years it has been recertified on 3 separate occasions, each time meeting the high standards of the European Union.
So You Think I'm a Paranoid Conspiracy Nut?
I don't live in the woods and get my electricity from a solar panel on the roof, actually I am almost are far as you can get to being "off the grid", but there are just certain behaviours that I find crossing the line.
I don't want foreign governments knowing my most inner thoughts as I type them into my computers search engine. Late in the night when I am searching for amusement or inspiration isn't what I would share with my nearest family members so the last thing I want to do is have some nameless and faceless government empowered official knowing that at 3am on a Wednesday morning I am looking for a poker game or where I can buy a chilli burrito. That information is between me and my computer.
And it's not just governments that you have to worry about. When a search engine provider builds a profile on you, that information can at any time, through anything from hacking to human error , become available to the wider populace.
If you think I am being overly sensitive, then just head on over to http://www.AOLStalker.com and have a look at the information that was accidentally released to the world in 2006. Even back then AOL was building a detailed picture of your web surfing activity which provided anyone with access to it with a detailed picture of your interests, wants, desires and of course perversions.
Using Google Without a Trace
Can't quite wean yourself off the mother teat that is Google? Then startpage is your perfect go to point. Run by the same company as Ixquick, startpage offers all the same privacy guarantees whilst still using the Google search results.
Simply explained, you enter the search you want results for in http://www.startpage.com and through a proxy server that masks your details and records nothing about you, startpage passes the search to Google and then anonymously returns the search results to you.
Using startpage gives you all the convenience of Google without any of the privacy issues.
What's Your Stealth Browsing Favourite?
Privacy by Proxy
The 3 search engines above are what I use on a daily basis to protect my online privacy. What you will find at first is that you are addicted to your favourite online search engine and without even giving it a second thought you will find yourself typing something akin to www.goog.. and then the realisation will hit you.
However, should you find it too difficult a decision to make, there are other ways to ensure that a web search provider isn't compiling a detailed dossier on you which one day may find its way onto the internet or into the hands of a company or government that you wouldn't wish to have it.
imagine if your health insurance provider suddenly got access to your search data which included searches for heart disease, obesity and hereditary heart problems. How much do you think your new health insurance premium would be? or will you even get health insurance?
My favourite proxy service is www.cyberghostvpn.com which does exactly what its cute name suggests. It cloaks my IP address and provides the search engine with a generic IP, so to them I become a "ghost". No data about me or my searches is either kept or passed on to a third party.
Just the way I like it.
Here's a Freebie FBI
So Many More
The above list is just a compilation of my personal favourites when it comes to maintaining my privacy when surfing the internet. There are currently over 250 search engines available and countless cloaking services, so I would suggest you find the one that you are both comfortable with and what does what you want of it.
Don't let your private data become anything but private.
As a final parting thought, the FBI is currently working on uploading 52,000,000 facial images to a database which will align the photos with fingerprint and biometric data. Of the 52 million photos, only 46 million are from criminal mug shots, the other 6 million are from civil sources.
How long before a large government organisation starts to link this data with your internet search history?
For all you know they may already be doing it.
Cracked on Google
- 5 Reasons You Should Be Scared of Google | Cracked.com
You knew Google would eventually show up on Cracked's 'We Don't Give a Damn' hit list.