What is the Difference Between Private Browsing Mode and Private Search Engines?
Private browsing modes don’t offer much privacy protection, as the name implies. These still allow the websites you visit to track you on their sites, and still gives your browsing data to your internet service provider. All the private browsing modes do is clear your cookies and your browsing history once your session is over.
What is the value of a “private” search engine?
Private search engines deliver relevant results without trading them for your data. Without gathering this information, there is much less risk that your data will be leaked to anyone.
Why Should You Use a Private Search Engine?
- No Tracking of Personal Information
- Objective, Neutral Search Results
- Private Browsing Isn’t Enough
- Searches Aren’t Linked to Your Email Account
- Private Search Engines Empower Users
Without tracking, search engines serve you fewer ads and less-intrusive ads. Your results can’t be influenced by your past searches or web browsing. Normal search engines will normally cache your search terms and the pages you visit. Then anyone with access to your computer will have access to this information.
Peace of Mind
Searching with private search engines gives users peace of mind that their searches aren’t being monitored and tracked.
Objective and Neutral Search Results
Your results won’t be biased from your past searches. Filter bubbles are a real problem, because they eliminate opposing views from your search results and social media feeds. Private search engines deliver the same results for every user, because they don’t use complex data profiles to tailor search results.
Private Browsing Modes Aren’t Private
In private browsing or Incognito Mode, your browser doesn’t track information about your internet behavior. However, information is still stored and sent from the websites you visit. Private search engines can truly keep your search terms hidden and in encrypted form.
What Does Incognito Mode Do?
Using Incognito Mode, Chrome won’t save the following information:
- Your browsing history
- Cookies and site data
- Information entered in forms
When users open an incognito window, Google discloses: Your activity might still be visible to:
- Websites you visit
- Your employer or school
- Your internet service provider
Beyond these reasons, using a private search engine helps improve the general climate and culture around privacy. There is a stigma around privacy, because some people think that the only people interested in staying private are those doing illegal stuff on the internet. This isn’t true. There are tons of people in the world that see the value in staying private, who are doing so completely legally and ethically.
Privacy matters because it limits the powers of oppressive governments, hackers, and businesses who maliciously target you with ads. If people have the power to be private, and not lose control of their data, they are more willing to speak freely — which allows information to flow on the internet. Another reason privacy matters is the effect of filter bubbles created by data profiles and algorithmic websites. Filter bubbles are a type of intellectual isolation that polarize political views and actually limit flow of information on the web.
Alternative Search Engines are Better for Users
Without substantial data about your interests and beliefs, search engines can’t tailor your results to your views. Private search engines offer more objective and unbiased results.
Private Search Engines Still Use Ads
There is a bit of a misconception that private search engines don’t serve ads like other search engines. Private search engines do, in fact, serve ads. The difference though is in how they do this. The only information that private search engines use to target these ads is what you typed in the search bar. Ads on private search engines are much less intrusive because they are only shown in relevant search results. Most private search engines make money by displaying a few ads at the top of search results or with affiliate links. The search ads are based solely on the user’s search term, and not past searches or demographic information.
Will Private Search Become More Important?
Recently, privacy has jumped to the front of people’s minds in the wake of the Facebook data scandal. Every time a story about a data breach comes up, people react by moving away from less-private websites and internet services. For the most part, search engines haven’t had a large-scale privacy breach. All it will take is one big hack or data breach, to cause a massive shift to private search alternatives. As awareness about privacy issues grows, more people will seek out privacy tools and services like VPNs and private search engines.
Concerns with Private Search Engines
When people switch to a private search engine, people are also migrating their trust. Any particular private search engine may be trustworthy now, but what happens if another company acquires them in the future? The simple answer is that it won’t matter. Private search engine that don’t collect user data don’t have any data to hand over to any third-parties, like governments or advertisers.
Dodging Search Engine Data Collection & Tracking
You can do some research on sites you frequently visit to see if they are tracking you. If you find out your browser is vulnerable, change your browser settings to block cookies and other forms of tracking. You can, and should, use tools like VPNs, private browsers, and privacy-based browser extensions to protect yourself. Google has tracking parameters on 75% of the top million websites, so avoiding these websites is extremely difficult. One quick step to avoid search tracking, is to switch to a privacy-based search engine.