When you need to get information or find something online, chances are you go to Google. But while Google is great at Web searches, it’s hardly stellar when it comes to privacy. It saves your search history, scans your Gmail, tracks your location, keeps everything you say to “OK Google,” and a lot more.
Why Google spies on you
Google does this partly to make its services more useful to you, by knowing what you want before you want it. But it also does it so it can serve you ads targeted just for you. (I recently told you how Google is tracking the websites you visit and the videos you watch, in order to better understand your interests.) Google also owns the digital ad network DoubleClick, which serves those interest-based ads. If that's a little too creepy, follow these steps to opt out of Google's interest-based ads.
Aside from blatant ad targeting, Google also filters results for you based on your search history. This "filter bubble" means that you and a family member can search for the same term, but come up with different results. To be fair, Google does let you wipe your search history, but it's always going to be trying to put two and two together.
If you're tired of Google and its lax view of privacy, here are three private search sites that don't track you. Check them all to find the one that's best for you.
DuckDuckGo is a solid Google replacement that doesn't track or target your IP address or search history. You don't have to worry about targeted search results or being trapped in a filter bubble, which actually means you get more results.
DuckDuckGo includes the nifty calculators and other tricks you've come to expect on Google, but that's not all. You can customize its interface, with search shortcuts and an Instant Answers feature that's just as good as, if not better than, Google's Knowledge Graph. You can also make DuckDuckGo an extension of your browser and activate more privacy settings to keep your search history as protected as possible.
If you have kids or grandchildren running around your house, chances are they've sat with you while you searched online for something kid-friendly, like suggestions for movies to watch or books to help with their homework. If so, you dread that inevitable moment when your innocent search turns into less-than-innocent results. Bam! The very sites you've been protecting them from pop up on your computer screen, and all your efforts to keep the kids safe from that inappropriate trash go up in smoke.
Fortunately, Yippy’s has got you covered. It automatically detects and blocks adult content, including pornography, gambling sites, sex product sites and other websites that are not appropriate for kids.
Ixquick calls itself the world's most private search site. It doesn't record your IP address, browser information or search history, so advertisers can't track you.
It also gives you the privacy of searching via proxy, so the sites you visit don't even know your real IP address. This is similar to Tor, but without the hassle of setting it up. Ixquick's proxy option gives you the most online privacy. It may slow down your searches, but when you select "proxy," Ixquick makes you invisible online.
To use it, just search on Ixquick for a word like "Komando." Your search results will look similar to Google's, with a list of websites that match your search, but each result has three options:
• Click on a link and it takes you to a page as normal, meaning the website can see you.
• Choose "Highlight" just to see the basics of a site to decide if you actually want to visit it.
• Click "Proxy" and you will remain anonymous to the site you're visiting. The site will see Ixquick's IP address, not yours. Just note that it will slow down the site a little.
Ixquick also keeps you out of filter bubbles, so you can get the search results you're looking for. Plus, it has a neat star system that rates the accuracy of your search results by cross-checking with other search engines. For example, four stars means that four other search engines agreed on that search term result.
Even if you minimize your use of Google, it's not the only company collecting your information and using it in scary ways. Find out how Facebook and hundreds of other sites track and share what you do, and how to put a stop to it.
On the Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show, Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com. Kim also posts breaking tech news 24/7 at News.Komando.com.