SEARCH­ING FOR AL­TER­NA­TIVES

PC & Tech Authority - - FEATURE | DITCH GOOGLE -

If there’s one area where Google re­mains an im­mov­able, dom­i­nant force, it’s search. Yet, there are in­ter­est­ing al­ter­na­tives to Google, most of which don’t com­pete on the strength of their re­sults, but the strength of their val­ues. Here are a few eth­i­cal al­ter­na­tives to Google to con­sider:

ECOSIA

Ecosia is the up-and-com­ing search en­gine. It’s of­fered as one of the pre­set search en­gines in Vi­valdi and is a Bing-pow­ered search en­gine that’s try­ing to save the planet. Ecosia pledges to re­turn 80% of its prof­its from search ad rev­enue to tree-plant­ing projects around the world.

You can’t fault its trans­parency: it pub­lishes a monthly fi­nan­cial re­port (doc­u­ments.ecosia.org) re­veal­ing ex­actly how much has been earned in spent. In April 2018, for in­stance, it do­nated more than $536,000 to treeplant­ing projects and stuck a fur­ther $117,000 into mar­ket­ing to help spread word about the site and boost fu­ture rev­enues. It even re­veals how much staff take home each month: the salaries of its 33 staff (in­clud­ing free­lancers) came to only $113,000. No­body, it seems, is get­ting rich off this com­pany.

DUCKDUCKGO

Now ap­proach­ing its tenth birth­day, DuckDuckGo coun­ters one of peo­ple’s big­gest fears about Google: be­ing con­stantly traced.

The search en­gine doesn’t col­lect per­sonal data, mean­ing the re­sults you see when you search are ex­actly the same as the next per­son sees, be­cause the site has no way of mak­ing the re­sults more rel­e­vant to you as an in­di­vid­ual – nor to profit from such per­sonal pro­fil­ing.

So how does it stay alive? It serves ads from the Ya­hoo-Bing search al­liance net­work, but these aren’t based on your search his­tory or re­cent buying be­hav­iour. You might see ads for dig­i­tal cam­eras on DuckDuckGo, but they won’t be for the one you were look­ing at on Ama­zon five min­utes ago. Or, at least, not through de­sign. For­merly known as Ixquick, StartPage claims that it was the first search en­gine ded­i­cated to pro­tect­ing peo­ple’s pri­vacy.

What does that ac­tu­ally mean? It doesn’t use iden­ti­fy­ing cook­ies or record IP ad­dresses – it doesn’t col­lect any per­sonal data what­so­ever. Along­side ev­ery link in its Google-pow­ered search re­sults you’ll find a ‘Proxy’ link, which al­lows you to visit the site with anonymity, al­though that does still have its down­sides. All JavaScript is dis­abled for se­cu­rity rea­sons, for ex­am­ple, ren­der­ing many web­sites in­op­er­a­ble.

If you’re re­ally against the Google vibe, then StartPage also of­fers its own web­mail ser­vice (StartMail), which has PGP en­cryp­tion baked in.

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