[Source: This article was published in theverge.com By Adi Robertson - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jay Harris]

Last weekend, in the hours after a deadly Texas church shooting, Google search promoted false reports about the suspect, suggesting that he was a radical communist affiliated with the antifa movement. The claims popped up in Google’s “Popular on Twitter” module, which made them prominently visible — although not the top results — in a search for the alleged killer’s name. Of course, the was just the latest instance of a long-standing problem: it was the latest of multiple similar missteps. As usual, Google promised to improve its search results, while the offending tweets disappeared. But telling Google to retrain its algorithms, as appropriate as that demand is, doesn’t solve the bigger issue: the search engine’s monopoly on truth.

Surveys suggest that, at least in theory, very few people unconditionally believe news from social media. But faith in search engines — a field long dominated by Google — appears consistently high. A 2017 Edelman survey found that 64 percent of respondents trusted search engines for news and information, a slight increase from the 61 percent who did in 2012, and notably more than the 57 percent who trusted traditional media. (Another 2012 survey, from Pew Research Center, found that 66 percent of people believed search engines were “fair and unbiased,” almost the same proportion that did in 2005.) Researcher danah boyd has suggested that media literacy training conflated doing independent research using search engines. Instead of learning to evaluate sources, “[students] heard that Google was trustworthy and Wikipedia was not.”

GOOGLE SEARCH IS A TOOL, NOT AN EXPERT

Google encourages this perception, as do competitors like Amazon and Apple — especially as their products depend more and more on virtual assistants. Though Google’s text-based search page is clearly a flawed system, at least it makes it clear that Google search functions as a directory for the larger internet — and at a more basic level, a useful tool for humans to master.

Google Assistant turns search into a trusted companion dispensing expert advice. The service has emphasized the idea that people shouldn’t have to learn special commands to “talk” to a computer, and demos of products like Google Home show off Assistant’s prowess at analyzing the context of simple spoken questions, then guessing exactly what users want. When bad information inevitably slips through, hearing it authoritatively spoken aloud is even more jarring than seeing it on a page.

Even if the search is overwhelmingly accurate, highlighting just a few bad results around topics like mass shootings is a major problem — especially if people are primed to believe that anything Google says is true. And for every advance Google makes to improve its results, there’s a host of people waiting to game the new system, forcing it to adapt again.

NOT ALL FEATURES ARE WORTH SAVING

Simply shaming Google over bad search results might actually play into its mythos, even if the goal is to hold the company accountable. It reinforces a framing where Google search’s ideal final state is a godlike, omniscient benefactor, not just a well-designed product. Yes, Google search should get better at avoiding obvious fakery, or creating a faux-neutral system that presents conspiracy theories next to hard reporting. But we should be wary of overemphasizing its ability, or that of any other technological system, to act as an arbiter of what’s real.

Alongside pushing Google to stop “fake news,” we should be looking for ways to limit trust in, and reliance on, search algorithms themselves. That might mean seeking handpicked video playlists instead of searching YouTube Kids, which recently drew criticism for surfacing inappropriate videos. It could mean focusing on reestablishing trust in human-led news curation, which has produced its own share of dangerous misinformation. It could mean pushing Google to kill, not improve, features that fail in predictable and damaging ways. At the very least, I’ve proposed that Google rename or abolish the Top Stories carousel, which offers legitimacy to certain pages without vetting their accuracy. Reducing the prominence of “Popular on Twitter” might make sense, too, unless Google clearly commits to strong human-led quality control.

The past year has made web platforms’ tremendous influence clearer than ever. Congress recently grilled Google, Facebook, and other tech companies over their role in spreading Russian propaganda during the presidential election. A report from The Verge revealed that unscrupulous rehab centers used Google to target people seeking addiction treatment. Simple design decisions can strip out the warning signs of a spammy news source. We have to hold these systems to a high standard. But when something like search screws up, we can’t just tell Google to offer the right answers. We have to operate on the assumption that it won’t ever have them.

Categorized in Search Engine

[Source: This article was published in technadu.com By Sydney Butler - Uploaded by the Association Member: Dana W. Jimenez]

The Dark Web, as part of the Deep Web, is defined largely by the fact that search engines can’t index it. Yet, people need to find onion sites in order to use them and many onion sites would be pretty pointless if no one ever visited them.

Which brings us to the idea of Dark Web “search engines”. Is there such a thing? How do they work? It’s a little more complicated than simply making a “Google for the Dark Web”, but in this article, you’ll learn about some of the best “search engines”, right after we explain what the special meaning of that term is in this context.

What Are Dark Web Search Engines?

Many so-called Dark Web search engines are really just repositories of links. This is actually how early search engines on the internet worked. More like a giant phone book than a web crawler that indexed the contents of sites.

Then, of course, there are search engines on the Dark Web that search the surface web. In other words, they provide a super-secure way to search for things on the regular internet that you don’t want to be attached to your history or identity. So adjust your expectations a little of what it means for something on the Dark Web to be a search engine and feast your eyes on these excellent Dark Web destinations, in your search for hidden network content.

DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo is easily accessible via the surface web, you just have to type its URL into any browser. It also offers an onion domain, which means that it counts as a Dark Web search engine, although it’s not really an engine that searches the Dark Web itself. You can search for onion links using this tool, but your mileage may vary.

What makes DuckDuckGo special is its ability to return relevant search results almost as good as those provided by Google. Yet, it does not need to store any information about you or your search history in order to do it. It’s one of the best privacy-focused search engines in existence and its presence on the Dark Web just adds another strong layer of security.

Torch

Torch

Torch is one of the oldest onion site indexes in existence. While no one knows for sure how much info is stored on the site, Torch itself claims that there are more than a million pages in its index. If something you’ve heard of exists on the Dark Web, Torch is probably your best chance of finding it.

The Onion URL Repository

Just as the name suggests, the Onion URL directory is another massive dump of onion sites with descriptions. More than a million sites by all accounts. That’s a lot of possible destinations to sift through, although no one knows how much of it overlaps with a site like Torch and how much is unique to this repository. Unfortunately, we weren’t actually able to find a working link to this one at the time of writing.

notEvil

notEvil

notEvil is the closest thing to a Google experience you may get on the Dark Web. The design of the site and how it appears to work is very reminiscent of the search giant. The name of this search tool is also a direct reference to Google since the company once had the motto “don’t be evil”, although that has been quietly retired.

notEvil provides some of the most relevant results and is probably the best “proper” search engine on the Dark Web.

Ahmia.fi

Ahmia.fi

OK, Ahmia is something a little different to the other sites listed here. Instead of being a search engine that resides on the Dark Web, this is actually an engine that searches the Tor Hidden Services network from the surface web. It also has an onion service and to actually visit any of the sites listed you’ll need Tor, but it’s pretty awesome that you can look for onion sites from any computer, not just one that has access to Tor.

Candle

Candle

Candle is a fairly new project that was first announced on r/onions/ three years ago. It’s a hobby project from the creator, trying to make a Google-like search engine for Tor. So Candle has actually been indexing onion sites and when it was announced there were already more than 100,000 pages.

Categorized in Deep Web

 [Source: This article was published in fastcompany.com By DOUG AAMOTH - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jay Harris]

Whether you’re privacy-conscious or just on the hunt for the perfect grilled-cheese sandwich, the best search engine for you might not be Google.

You’d be hard-pressed to find the cross-section of living people who have searched for something on the web and who haven’t ever—never, ever, ever, not even once—used Google. But even if you are among the billions who do, it’s nice to know you have alternatives. Maybe you’re concerned about your privacy. Maybe you’re looking for something pretty specific. Maybe you’re just ready to try something new.

Well, the good news is that there are plenty of search engines to try—some very Google-like, and some going out of their way to act very un-Googley. Here are a few to check out the next time you need something.

DuckDuckGo

1. DON’T QUIT COLD TURKEY

Newsflash: Google is dominant. Startpage—which bills itself as the world’s most private search engine—knows this and doesn’t try to out-Google the almighty Google. Instead, it leverages Google’s search results but strips out all the tracking, data mining, and personalized results. Your IP address isn’t recorded, none of your personal data is collected, and there’s a single cookie served up that stores your preferences (but it expires if you don’t come back for 90 days).

For private, truly non-Google search, try the venerable DuckDuckGo—which leverages hundreds of sources, including Bing and its own web crawler—or Searx, which can be customized to toggle search results on and off from more than 20 engines (including Google).

Ecosia

2. DO SOME GOOD

The internet has it all . . . including a search engine that plants trees. Environmentally-minded Ecosia uses servers that run on renewable energy, doesn’t track users or sell data to third parties, and uses profits from text link ads and commissions from its online store to plant trees around the world. Ecosia says that it takes about 45 searches to finance a new tree, so the more curious among us may someday be responsible for entire forests. Actual search results are powered by Microsoft’s Bing technology, and there’s a cool little personal counter that lets you know how many Ecosia searches you’ve made.
SearchTeam

3. SEARCH WITH FRIENDS

A self-described “collaborative search engine,” SearchTeam works as its name implies. Someone in your group creates a “SearchSpace” based on a specific topic and then invites others in the group to scour the web for sites and media that further the cause. Saving happens in real-time, and there are organization and commenting features that make it easy to keep everyone in the loop. And if SearchTeam’s results aren’t quite extensive enough, you can add links manually, upload documents, and create custom posts to organize additional knowledge.

Yummly

4. LET YOUR TUMMY BE YOUR GUIDE

Hungry? Picky? Yummly has you covered. This food-finding search engine catalogs more than two million recipes and lets you get very specific about what you’d like to eat, peppering you with questions and qualifiers that you can answer or skip in order to narrow down the results. My search for the perfect grilled-cheese sandwich—no veggies, five or fewer ingredients, 15 minutes or less, cheddar cheese, grilled (not pressed), and easy enough for a culinary Luddite to create—started at 7,137 recipes and ended up at a very-manageable 20 to choose from. Now I need to figure out how to work my stove.

Listen Notes

5. LOTS AND LOTS OF LISTENABLES

Podcasts are everywhere—both figuratively in popularity and literally in that they’re scattered around all corners of the web. Confidently billing itself as “the best podcast search engine,” Listen Notes does an admirable job at corralling content, boasting more than 50 million episodes to be found across almost three-quarters of a million podcasts. You can create your own listen-later playlists for individual episodes without having to subscribe to entire podcasts, which can then be slung to your player of choice via RSS (kids, look that up—it was the bee’s knees back in the day). You can even add contributors so that you and your friends can work on the same lists.

 

Categorized in Search Engine

[Source: This article was Published in exchangewire.com By Mathew Broughton - Uploaded by the Association Member: Eric Beaudoin]

Talk about Google, along with their domination of the digital ad ecosystem, would not be on the lips of those in ad tech were it not for their original product: the Google Search engine.

Despite negative press coverage and EU fines, some estimates suggest the behemoth continues to enjoy a market share of just under 90% in the UK search market. However, there have been rumblings of discontent from publishers, which populate the results pages, about how they have been treated by the California-based giant.

This anger, combined with concerns over GDPR and copyright law violations, has prompted the launch of new ‘disruptive’ search engines designed to address these concerns. But will these have any effect on Google’s stranglehold on the global search industry? ExchangeWire details the problems publishers are experiencing with Google along with some of the new players in the search market, what effect they have had thus far, and how advertisers could capitalize on privacy-focused competition in the search market.

Google vs publishers

Publishers have experienced margin squeezes for years, whilst Google’s sales have simultaneously skyrocketed, with parent company Alphabet’s revenue reaching USD$36.3bn (£28.7bn) in the first quarter of 2019 alone. Many content producers also feel dismay towards Google’s ‘enhanced search listings’, as these essentially scrape content from their sites and show it in their search results, eliminating the need for users to visit their site, and in turn their monetization opportunity.

Recent changes to the design of the search results page, at least on mobile devices, which are seemingly aimed at making the differences between ads and organic listings even more subtle (an effect which is particularly noticeable on local listings) will also prove perturbing for the publishers which do not use Google paid search listings.

DuckDuckGo: The quack grows louder

Perhaps the best-known disruptive search engine is DuckDuckGo, which markets itself on protecting user privacy whilst also refining results by excluding low-quality sources such as content mills. In an attempt to battle against privacy concerns, and in recognition of anti-competitive investigations, Google has added DuckDuckGo to Chrome as a default search option in over 60 markets including the UK, US, Australia and South Africa. Further reflecting their increased presence in the search market: DuckDuckGo’s quack has become louder recently, adding momentum to the recent calls to transform the toothless ‘Do Not Track’ option into giving more meaningful protections to user privacy, as originally intended.

Qwant: Local search engines fighting Google

Qwant is a France-based search engine which, similar to DuckDuckGo, preserves user privacy by not tracking their queries. Several similar locally-based engines have been rolled out across Europe, including Mojeek (UK) and Unbubble (Germany). Whilst they currently only occupy a small percentage (~6%) of the French search market, Qwant’s market share has grown consistently year-on-year since their launch in 2013, to the extent that they are now challenging established players such as Yahoo! in the country. In recognition of their desire to increase their growth across Europe, whilst continuing to operate in a privacy-focused manner, Qwant has recently partnered with Microsoft to leverage their various tech solutions. A further sign of their growing level of gravitas is the French government’s decision to eschew Chrome in favour of their engine.

Ahrefs: The 90/10 profit share model

A respected provider of performance-monitoring tools within search, Ahrefs is now working on directly competing with Google with their own engine, according to a series of tweets from founder & CEO Dmitry Gerasimenko. Whilst a commitment to privacy will please users, content creators will be more interested in the proposed profit-share model, whereby 90% of the prospective search revenue will be given to the publisher. Though there is every change that this tweet-stage idea will never come to fruition, the Singapore-based firm already has impressive crawling capabilities which are easily transferable for indexing, so it is worth examining in the future.

Opportunity for advertisers

With the launch of Google privacy tools, along with stricter forms of intelligent tracking prevention (ITP) on the Safari and Firefox browsers, discussions have abounded within the advertising industry on whether budgets will be realigned away from display and video towards fully contextual methods such as keyword-based search. Stricter implementation of GDPR and the prospective launch of similar privacy legislation across the globe will further the argument that advertisers need to examine privacy-focused solutions.

Naturally, these factors will compromise advertisers who rely on third-party targeting methods and tracking user activity across the internet, meaning they need to identify ways of diversifying their offering. Though they have a comparatively tiny market share, disruptive search engines represent a potential opportunity for brands and advertisers to experiment with privacy-compliant search advertising.

Categorized in Search Engine

[Source: This article was Published in lifewire.com By Tim Fisher - Uploaded by the Association Member: Issac Avila]

Do research, check neighborhood safety, or report crimes using these sites

Find crime statistics, crime scene investigation information, police information, and more with these law enforcement search engines, sites, and communities. These websites are open to everyone, and the information they contain is free. 

 Family Watchdog: Sex Offender Registry

Family Watchdog Sex Offender Registry

What We Like

  • Sends free notifications when offenders move in or out of your area.

  • Also contains information on food and drug recalls.

  • Includes blog with entries on topics to keep your family safe.

What We Don't Like

  • Map legend needs clearer explanations of the icons.

  • You have to click on icons one at a time to pull up the offender's photo and information.

  • The site is ad heavy.

Family Watchdog provides a notification service. You register an account and are delighted to see that no sex offenders live in your neighborhood. However, that could change, and if it does, you'll receive an email or text message from Family Watchdog with information about the new neighbor. You can also opt to search the data base of offenders by state. 

What We Like

  • Includes registries for 50 states, D.C., five territories, and many Indian tribes.

  • The Education & Protection web page includes safety information for families.

  • No advertisements.

What We Don't Like

  • Each registry is maintained by its state, territory, or tribe.

  • Any requests for changes or additional information must go through the individual registry affected.

The National Sex Offender Registry from the U.S. Department of Justice is another free service you can use to identify registered sex offenders in your local area. Sex offender registries, a searchable database of sex offender information and statistics, and help for victims of sexual crimes are all available here. You can search by name, location, ZIP code, address, school, and daycare facility. This information is especially useful if you're planning a move and want to make sure that neighborhoods you are thinking of moving to are safe. 

FBI

FBI

What We Like

  • Features a Case of the Week each week.

  • Contains information on fugitives, terrorists, kidnapped and missing persons, and crime statistics.

  • Seeks names or information on unidentified persons shown in photos or sketches.

What We Don't Like

  • How and where to search for information is difficult to determine on this vast website.

  • Designed to seek help from the public, rather than to serve as a search engine.

An enormous amount of information is available on the FBI website, including lots of crime statistics and law enforcement information, reports and publications, a Top Ten Fugitive list, information on how to become an FBI agent. The site is home to a rotating set of featured stories regarding crime and law enforcement, crime statistics, victim assistance, warnings about current popular scams, criminal justice information services, and much more. This site is updated frequently, as FBI information tends to change often. 

Officer.com

Officercom

What We Like

  • Headlines and the forums are updated regularly.

  • A collection of current goings-on in the law enforcement communities.

What We Don't Like

  • Contains many advertisements.

  • The headlines link to stories on other sites. There is no original content.

  • Not useful as a search engine.

The Officer.com website is useful for law enforcement agency search, officer search, and crime sites search. Firearms information, tactical training, career information, and active forums are also available. Much of the information is aimed at police officers, but it is of potential interest to anyone who wants to learn more about the criminal justice system. 

 National Criminal Justice Reference Service

National Criminal Justice Reference Service

What We Like

  • Enormous collection of search topics relating to crime and law enforcement.

  • Hundreds of downloadable publications.

  • If you can't find an answer to a question on the site, you are encouraged to email it to a Specialist for an answer.

What We Don't Like

  • The site contains so much information, it is a little overwhelming.

  • No indication how long it takes for a live Specialist to respond to an emailed question.

The National Criminal Justice Reference Service is a free, federally funded organization and website that provides justice and drug-related information to support research, policy, and program development. Search through A-Z topics, learn about the courts, funding opportunities, and law enforcement. Many different organizations are represented here, including the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Juvenile Justice, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics. 

 FindLaw

FindLaw

What We Like

  • Searches yield the names of lawyers with a specified area of expertise in a specific location.

  • Frequent updates with articles on current topics.

  • Library of podcasts and blogs.

  • Legal forms for download.

What We Don't Like

  • FindLaw is predominantly a legal marketing firm.

  • Law firms pay to be listed in the FindLaw directory.

FindLaw is a legal directory on the web with consumer legal information, criminal law resources, and a ton more law enforcement topics. All sorts of legal topics, state law information, and help in finding a local attorney for any legal need you might have are also available here. If you have a bit of legal research that you'd like to do, this is also a useful site. It doesn't substitute for advice from a licensed attorney, but it's good for getting started. 

Department of Justice

Department of Justice

What We Like

  • Attractive, professional website.

  • Provides ways to find sales of seized properties, locate prison inmates, identify missing persons, and report crimes.

  • Updated regularly.

What We Don't Like

  • The website contains so much information, it is difficult to know where to look.

  • Lists job possibilities but doesn't give information on requirements needed to apply.

All sorts of interesting things are on the U.S. Department of Justice website including reporting a crime, finding a job, locating an inmate, finding help for crime victims, sales of seized property, even reporting waste and misconduct. Here are just a few of the topics you'll find at the Department of Justice: How to Combat Terrorism, Uphold Civil Rights & Liberties, End Violence Against Women, and much more. You can also sign up for email updates to keep track of the latest law and order news that affects the nation. The Department of Justice also has a presence on several of the major social media platforms.

SpotCrime

SpotCrime

What We Like

  • Displays icons for different types of crimes on an area map.

  • Sends text messages to registered users when new crimes occur in their areas.

  • Includes burglary, theft, identify theft, assault, and other types of crimes.

What We Don't Like

  • Information about an individual crime is limited to date, type of crime, and address.

  • Contains display ads.

  • User interface could use a makeover.

SpotCrime provides a map of crime hot spots for hundreds of different cities around the United States. Click on your state and find the city you're looking for or give the website permission to determine your location, and then read the map legend to figure out what kind of crimes are represented on the map. You're able to browse by state here, and you can submit crime information if you have it. 

 

Categorized in Internet Privacy

[Source: This article was Published in itsfoss.com By   - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jay Harris]

Brief: In this age of the internet, you can never be too careful with your privacy. Use these alternative search engines that do not track you.

Google – unquestionably being the best search engine out there, makes use of powerful and intelligent algorithms (including A.I. implementations) to let the users get the best out of a search engine with a personalized experience.

This sounds good until you start to live in a filter bubble. When you start seeing everything that ‘suits your taste’, you get detached from reality. Too much of anything is not good. Too much of personalization is harmful as well.

This is why one should get out of this filter bubble and see the world as it is. But how do you do that?

You know that Google sure as hell tracks a lot of information about your connection and the system when you perform a search and take an action within the search engine or use other Google services such as Gmail.

So, if Google keeps on tracking you, the simple answer would be to stop using Google for searching the web. But what would you use in place of Google? Microsoft’s Bing is no saint either.

So, to address the netizens concerned about their privacy while using a search engine, I have curated a list of privacy oriented alternative search engines to Google. 

Best 8 Privacy-Oriented Alternative Search Engines To Google

Do note that the alternatives mentioned in this article are not necessarily “better” than Google, but only focuses on protecting users privacy. Here we go!

1. DuckDuckGo

privacy oriented search engine duckduckgo

DuckDuckGo is one of the most successful privacy oriented search engines that stands as an alternative to Google. The user experience offered by DuckDuckGo is commendable. I must say – “It’s unique in itself”.

DuckDuckGo, unlike Google, utilizes the traditional method of “sponsored links” to display the advertisements. The ads are not focused on you but only the topic you are searching for – so there is nothing that could generate a profile of you in any manner – thereby respecting your privacy.

Of course, DuckDuckGo’s search algorithm may not be the smartest around (because it has no idea who you are!). And, if you want to utilize one of the best privacy oriented alternative search engines to Google, you will have to forget about getting a personalized experience while searching for something.

The search results are simplified with specific meta data’s. It lets you select a country to get the most relevant result you may be looking for. Also, when you type in a question or searching for a fix, it might present you with an instant answer (fetched from the source).

Although, you might miss quite a few functionalities (like filtering images by license) – that is an obvious trade-off to protect your privacy.

DuckDuckGo

Suggested read  ProtonMail: An Open Source Privacy-Focused Email Service Provider

2. Qwant

qwant best privacy oriented search engines

Qwant is probably one of the most loved privacy oriented search engines after DuckDuckGo. It ensures neutrality, privacy, and digital freedom while you search for something on the Internet.

If you thought privacy-oriented search engines generally tend to offer a very casual user experience, you need to rethink after trying out Qwant. This is a very dynamic search engine with trending topics and news stories organized very well. It may not offer a personalized experience (given that it does not track you) – but it does feel like it partially with a rich user experience offered to compensate that in a way.

Qwant is a very useful search engine alternative to Google. It lists out all the web resources, social feeds, news, and images on the topic you search for.

Qwant

3. Startpage

startpage best privacy oriented search engines

Startpage is a good initiative as a privacy-oriented search engine alternative to Google. However, it may not be the best one around. The UI is very similar to that of Google’s (while displaying the search results – irrespective of the functionalities offered). It may not be a complete rip-off but it is not very impressive – everyone has got their own taste.

To protect your privacy, it lets you choose it. You can either select to visit the web pages using the proxy or without it. It’s all your choice. You also get to change the theme of the search engine. Well, I did enjoy my switch to the “Night” theme. There’s an interesting option with the help of which you can generate a custom URL keeping your settings intact as well.

Startpage

4. Privatelee

privatelee best privacy oriented search engines

Privatelee is another kind of search engine specifically tailored to protect your online privacy. It does not track your search results or behavior in any way. However, you might get a lot of irrelevant results after the first ten matched results.

The search engine isn’t perfect to find a hidden treasure on the Internet but more for general queries. Privatelee also supports power commands – more like shortcuts – which helps you search for the exact thing in an efficient manner. It will save a lot of your time for pretty simple tasks such as searching for a movie on Netflix. If you were looking for a super fast privacy oriented search engine for common queries, Privatelee would be a great alternative to Google.

Privatelee

Suggested read  Librem 5 is a Security and Privacy Focused Smartphone Based on Linux

5. Swisscows

swisscows best privacy oriented search engines

Well, it isn’t dairy farm portfolio site but a privacy-oriented search engine as an alternative to Google. You may have known about it as Hulbee – but it has recently redirected its operation to a new domain. Nothing has really changed except for the name and domain of the search engine. It works the same way it was before as Hulbee.com.

Swisscows utilizes Bing to deliver the search results as per your query. When you search for something, you would notice a tag cloud on the left sidebar which is useful if you need to know about the related key terms and facts. The design language is a lot simpler but one of its kind among the other search engines out there. You get to filter the results according to the date but that’s about it – no more advanced options to tweak your search results. It utilizes a tile search technique (a semantic technology) to fetch the best results to your queries. The search algorithm makes sure that it is a family-friendly search engine with pornography and violence ruled out completely.

Swisscows

6. searX

searX best privacy oriented search engines

searX is an interesting search engine – which is technically defined as a “metasearch engine”. In other words, it utilizes other search engines and accumulates the results to your query in one place. It does not store your search data being an open source metasearch engine at the same time. You can review the source code, contribute, or even customize it as your own metasearch engine hosted on your server.

If you are fond of utilizing Torrent clients to download stuff, this search engine will help you find the magnet links to the exact files when you try searching for a file through searX. When you access the settings (preferences) for searX, you would find a lot of advanced things to tweak from your end. General tweaks include – adding/removing search engines, rewrite HTTP to HTTPS, remove tracker arguments from URL, and so on. It’s all yours to control. The user experience may not be the best here but if you want to utilize a lot of search engines while keeping your privacy in check, searX is a great alternative to Google.

searX

Suggested read  Free and Open Source Skype Alternative Ring 1.0 Released!

7. Peekier

peekier best privacy oriented search engines

Peekier is another fascinating privacy oriented search engine. Unlike the previous one, it is not a metasearch engine but has its own algorithm implemented. It may not be the fastest search engine I’ve ever used but it is an interesting take on how search engines can evolve in the near future. When you type in a search query, it not only fetches a list of results but also displays the preview images of the web pages listed. So, you get a “peek” on what you seek. While the search engine does not store your data, the web portals you visit do track you.

So, in order to avoid that to an extent, Peekier accesses the site and generates a preview image to decide whether to head into the site or not (without you requiring to access it). In that way, you allow less websites to know about you – mostly the ones you trust.

Peekier

8. MetaGer

metager best privacy oriented search engines

MetaGer is yet another open source metasearch engine. However, unlike others, it takes privacy more seriously and enforces the use of Tor network for anonymous access to search results from a variety of search engines. Some search engines who claim to protect your privacy may share your information to the government (whatever they record) because the server is bound to US legal procedures. However, with MetaGer, the Germany-based server would protect even the anonymous data recorded while using MetaGer.

They do house a few number of advertisements (without trackers of course)- but you can get rid of those as well by joining in as a member of the non-profit organization – SUMA-EV – which sponsors the MetaGer search engine.

MetaGer

Suggested read  7 Open Source Chrome Alternative Web Browsers For Linux

Wrapping Up

If you are concerned about your privacy, you should also take a look at some of the best privacy-focused Linux distributions. Among the search engine alternatives mentioned here – DuckDuckGo – is my personal favorite. But it really comes down to your preference and whom would you choose to trust while surfing the Internet.

Do you know some more interesting (but good) privacy-oriented alternative search engines to Google?

Categorized in Search Engine

[This article is originally published in time.com written by EDWARD TENNER - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Jeremy Frink]

The most famous dictum of the science fiction writer and futurist Arthur C. Clarke may be his Third Law: “Any technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic.” And for most of us, the efficiency of 21st-century search engines — Google, Bing, Yahoo, and others — can be uncannily accurate. But when it comes to learning, instant gratification can be as much a bug as a feature.

Take high school students today. They have grown up using search engines and other web resources; they don’t need to understand how these tools work in order to use them. In fact, thanks to what’s called machine learning, search engines, and other software can become more accurate — and even those who write the code for them may not be able to explain why.

What’s the problem with tools that become so natural to the generation has grown up using them? It is that, just as a stage magician may use elaborately concealed machinery to accomplish a trick, there are hidden mechanisms in search engines that people need to know about, just as they may have learned to play sports “naturally” but need coaching to avoid wasted effort and injuries. Searching needs to be taught — to everyone, but in schools particularly.

The very strength of modern search engines — the promotion of sources being cited by other frequently cited sources — can’t always filter out bad, even fake information that is popular enough. Of course, newspapers, magazines, and books have always passed inaccuracies to each other; the former standard biography of the inspirational novelist Horatio Alger still influences some reference books, even though its author admitted fabricating sources decades ago. The difference is that we once were more likely to turn to trusted sources— from newspapers to massive encyclopedias — and had some recognition of their biases.

Now, the rankings of search engines are the result of inscrutable and anonymous yet authoritative-seeming processes that can sometimes hide falsity and bias. Part of the reason is that search engines are designed to appeal to what they perceive or predict as your values. For example, a search for information about alternative medicine will yield different pages in different nations depending on the attitudes of medical elites and of patients. If your previous queries have suggested an attitude, pro or con, search results may be biased to give you more of the same rather than to find the most scientifically rigorous conclusions.

Other search results are elevated in search ranking not by geographic inference or personal search history but by techniques called search engine optimization, which can be legitimate and useful but also can give an advantage to sites skilled at gaming the algorithm. This might make them more prominent, even if their information is incorrect or manipulative. Even without conscious intervention, search engine results can reflect racist attitudes. There is an old computer saying, “garbage in, garbage out.” If racists and sexists use a phrase often, the search engine may mindlessly reflect their attitudes. For instance, in 2004, the year Google went public, searching for the word “Jew” on the site called up anti-Semitic sites. While both of Google’s founders have Jewish or partly Jewish family backgrounds, the company on principle resisted any attempt to suppress what it considered the objective results of its programming. Organized hate groups can also manipulate rankings with social media campaigns.

Extremist tinkering with results can be especially dangerous because search engines and many other apps are designed to inspire a flattering feeling of mastery. Psychologists call this tendency the illusion of control. Think of casino bettors who believe their technique can affect a roll of the dice. The Dunning-Kruger effect, a related pitfall, is the tendency for people who are ignorant of a subject to be unaware of how little they know. This may have always been a problem for some students, but the web seems to make it unnecessary to know facts because they are so easy to look up — a problem that compounds itself again and again when the information a person may find is faulty.

The Dunning-Kruger effect, in turn, points to another challenge: to choose among a number of alternative sites yielded by a search, it’s often necessary to know a lot about the subject already. High school students, for instance, may be highly knowledgeable about some things but not necessarily about academic subjects. Wikipedia articles often rank highly in searches, and Wikipedia editors are usually quick to catch vandalism and to correct misinformation like, say, false Horatio Alger documents. But the very strength of Wikipedia — that so many editors add to, delete from and modify each other’s work — makes it more difficult for one of its pages to achieve the kind of systematic, clear contextualization required to teach complex and unfamiliar ideas. The reason is a paradox called the curse of knowledge, defined by the psychologist Steven Pinker as “the failure to understand that other people don’t know what we know.”

Social and computer scientists have discovered in the last ten years or so that the result of those four struggles is that young people who have grown up with the web — the so-called “digital natives” — are no more skilled than older people at using electronic technology. Search engine companies themselves acknowledge the need for education. Dan Russell, who studies user behavior for Google, found that only 10% of users know how to find a word on a web page or document using the Control-F command.

While many teachers are aware of the challenge of teaching search literacy, it’s unlikely that secondary schools — many woefully underfunded — will be able to make time for yet another subject. Fortunately, search engine companies are aware of the pedagogical problems they have inadvertently created, and Google and Microsoft offer online resources for teachers and students.

The right way to teach search skills isn’t to add yet another required subject, as legislators and administrators often do. Although some formal instruction will be necessary, we really need to make the search a natural part of lessons and even vocational and on-the-job training, encouraging students of all kinds to collaborate in their searches, enlisting librarians — the search professionals — as coaches.

Search skills are the key not only to learning but to learning how to learn. They can enable you to explore make discoveries of all sorts — including those that seem both silly and profound. For instance, years ago, I bought a rare set of nineteenth-century lithographed posters at an auction in Chicago. Almost nothing about the artist or his company appeared in library catalogs or periodical indexes. The Chicago history museum had no file. Then a fascinating story emerged from dozens of digitized newspapers and other sites searchable through Google. I traced the artist, named John McGreer, from his youth in the Mississippi River town of Muscatine, Iowa, to Chicago, where he witnessed the great fire of 1871 and co-founded a thriving business, the Cartoon Publishing Company, that churned out crude but attention-getting novelties. My posters, I discovered, were intended to be displayed in store windows to attract customers. The artist’s work also helped promote the dime museums that flourished in American cities after P.T. Barnum’s American Museum became the talk of New York City. The searching led me to further oddities: McGreer had a gift for weird legal trouble, including federal criminal prosecution for counterfeiting nickels. (Another search revealed the existence of a thriving nickel-counterfeiting scene in the 1890s and led me to articles about the phenomenon in numismatic magazines.) And through digitized newspapers online, I discovered his sad end in 1907, drowned by the wake of a steamer while painting on a barge moored on the Hudson River in 1908. This was a special sort of history that had been unavailable in the print resources around me. Now I am planning an exhibition around my once-inscrutable posters, and expect that search will reveal a lot more about the vanished world of dime-museum art.

Search engines don’t deliver truth on a platter. They are more like shop assistants who may have to go back to the stockroom again and again until they find what you are looking for. We customers must learn to ask the right questions in the right way. And the more we learn, the more useful the questions we will be able to ask.

The original version of this story misstated the name of Arthur C. Clarke’s law. It is his Third Law, not his Third Law of Robotics.

Categorized in Search Engine

[This article is originally published in thewindowsclub.com written by Ashish Mohta - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Grace Irwin]

Google and Bing are the most popular search engines on the internet. They are very accurate and powerful, but then nothing is free. Just like any other website, search engines keep a tab on you. Whatever you search, you visit, what you look on the internet is tracked. This information becomes a data mine for advertisers if you don’t like that, in this post we are sharing some of the top privacy respecting search engines.

Best Private Search Engines

Everyone wants to maintain their privacy. Nobody likes getting followed. It is where we need search engines which can support that privacy. These search engines grew from being an experiment, and now they are becoming part of something important because of what they can do.

To those who still wonder if Privacy should be of concern? Then you can imagine if companies know about what you do on a day to day basis, they can predict what you might do, and influence your decision. That’s why so many people use a VPN. These VPNs make sure what you do on the internet doesn’t even stay with them.

Just before we start, do understand one thing. These search engines may or may not give you the results you have been used to in Google.

1] DuckDuckGo.com

Not only it doesn’t track, but it even also maintains privacy. Browsers are known to follow you even when you use them in private browsing mode. Apart from these, you can do a lot more using DuckDuckGo which is not possible using other search engines.

2] Startpage.com

It is one of the oldest Privacy based search engines which doesn’t harvest personal data. One of the most significant advantages is that they show search result same as Google. The team behind Startpage pay Google to use their API, but make sure to remove all trackers and logs.

When you click on the search result, you leave StartPage. It makes sure that websites do not get any data, track you.  They call it the “Anonymous View” feature.  You’ll find the element next to every search result.

3] Qwant.com

It’s a European search engine which doesn’t use any cookie and search history.  While they do make money through advertisements, they do not track based on your search queries. It includes No third-party cookies, trackers, behavioral targeting or campaigns mixing legit and promotional content (native advertising). They also have Qwant Junior which is for kids. They make sure to keep any adult content off the search results.

4] Swisscows.ch

Based out of Switzerland, Swisscows have their server and data centers. These computers are geographically outside of the EU and the US. It makes sure none of these countries can access their servers under any law. While they do not store any data from the visitors, they do save the number of search requests daily. It helps them measure overall traffic to evaluate a breakdown of this traffic by language and mere overall statistics.

5] searX.me

It’s an open source search engine which respects privacy. Technically it uses  POST request on every browser which makes sure nothing is logged. If you are a bit into tech, and programming, you can create your custom engine module.

6] Peekier.com

Just like its name, the website renders an image of the site you wish to visit. It gives you the freedom to read or view what’s on the website without visiting them. While it doesn’t use any cookies, it uses HTML5 local storage to store your settings such as layout, region or safe search.

7] MetaGer.de

It’s another open source search engine. It uses the Tor network to make sure search results are anonymous. These results are taken from a variety of search engines. They have positioned their servers in Germany where laws protect even the anonymous data recorded. The search engine use advertisements in the results to cover for the cost.

8] SearchEncrypt.com

The team uses a different way to keep your privacy safe. Whenever you make a request, it goes through encryption and then sent to their servers. The query then goes through the decryption process on their servers. Based on your query, the results are aggregated, encrypted and sent back to you. The whole process makes sure that you are nowhere in the picture. Your local browsing history for any search expires after 30 minutes of inactivity. The company uses sponsored ads on the search results page. It helps them to cover the cost of their servers; These advertisements do not track you.

9] Gibiru.com

Gibiru is a private search engine that offers anonymous and uncensored search engine technology. It is the only “anonymous search engine” available that includes a “Uncensored” optional feature. Gibiru provides a VPN service as well as uncensored search results.

These privacy respecting search engines are excellent alternatives for those who cannot or do not want to pay for VPN servers. They not only make sure that your queries do not get into the hands of anybody, but some of them also offer the same search experience as Google. While some of them do show advertisements, but they are native ads which displayed without any relevance to the search query.

Categorized in Search Engine

[This article is originally published in searchenginejournal.com written by Dave Davies - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Anna K. Sasaki]

Let me begin this with a full disclaimer. I begin each day by ransacking the news to make sure I know what’s going on in the search world around me. Follow me on Twitter and at some point, in the morning you’ll find a flurry of Tweets – that’s when.

For a slide deck, I had put together recently, I decided to publish each change in the SERP (search engine results pages) layouts for the month prior. There were 18 slides in that section. And that was just for February 2019.

I want to stress this point, a point we will come back to later. It’s important.

But for now, all we need to keep in mind is that there is a good chance that between the second this piece is published and the time you are reading there may well have been changes.

Actually, there’s a very likely chance that between the time I finish writing it, it gets edited, and publishes, there may well have already been changes.

Yes, the pace of change in the SERPs is that fast.

They may not be huge… but they’re there and through more than a dozen per month, over a year even that small once create dramatically different experiences.

So, what we will focus on here are the main blocks and some of the elements on them. That is to say, the main areas, where the data is gathered to produce them and what that means for you.

Generic SERP Layout

Let’s start by looking at a pretty generic SERP layout:

Generic SERP Layout

This isn’t the only layout as we’ll see below but it’s likely pretty familiar to you.

So, what are these sections?

A: Featured Snippet / Answer Box

This is the section above the organic results that attempts to answer a user’s complete intent.

As we can see in the example above, if the only intent is a simple answer, this is where it’ll likely (though not exclusively) be.

Importantly, structuring your content in a way that produces the answer box often results in the answer for Google voice search as well. But not always… as with the example above. More on that below.

B: Knowledge Panel / Graph

For business or known human entity queries, this generally contains a summary of the information Google views as core to their identity. That is, key information a searcher would likely be interested in knowing.

For more general queries, however (like the civil war), we find key facts and images, generally with links to other relevant events or entities.

I noted above that voice search results don’t exclusively come from the answer box.

If there is a knowledge panel the voice result will generally come from here. In fact, I’ve yet to find an exception though it may be a truncated version.

C: People Also Ask

Exactly as the name suggests, this section contains a list of questions that relate to the initial query.

This section is generally triggered when the initial query implies that the user is seeking information on a topic.

The list of questions relates more to the query itself than search volumes. That is to say, these are not necessarily the top queries around an entity but those questions that relate to the initial question.

When a result is expanded, an answer for the query is given with a link to the site the answer was drawn from as well as a search result for the query with additional details.

Interestingly: The answer is given on the initial results page:

serp layout people also asked

Differs from the Answer Box result on the results page if clicked:

serp layout people also asked 2

Likely they are assuming that the user’s intent differs when the query is being directly searched vs. tacked on to the previous.

D & D2: Organic Results

Technically everything on the page above is an organic result.

As everyone reading this article is most certainly aware, these are produced based on a combination of very sophisticated algorithms over at the Googleplex(es) and are ordered based on those algorithms – designed to produce the top pages to satisfy a user’s likely intent(s).

I’m not going to attempt to dive into what signals are used right now as that’s not the purpose of this article.

When there are popular videos that attempt to answer a query, they are often displayed in a carousel.

Alternatively, if the query inspires Google to believe that the user intent would be met with the addition of images we’ll find:

E: Video Results (Alternate: News or Images)

serp layout

Or if the query triggers the likely intent that the user may be looking for news:

serp layout video news

F: Related Entities

In section F above we find a row of related entities based on a core characteristic.

In the query used as an example, we were seeking information on a major military conflict. Google has determined that “military conflict” is the entity association most relevant to the searcher and thus listed others.

There can be more than one such row of results at the bottom of the page though I’ve yet to see more than three.

G: Searches Related to…

At the bottom, we find the related searches.

They differ from the “People Also Ask” in that they don’t have to be questioned (though they can be). As such, there can be a bit of overlap, but not necessarily.

Generally, these are generated by searches that people who searched for the present query have also searched.

Local SERP Layout

Oh, wait… Google hasn’t monetized yet and there are some SERP features that are missing.

OK, let’s try again.

As it’s almost lunch as I write this, let’s look up pizza near me. We get:

serp layout local.fw

H: Snack Pack / Map Pack / Local Pack

For anyone familiar with local in any way or anyone who’s ever done any type of query with local intent, you’ll be familiar with the map pack/snack pack / local pack. Wow, that’s a lot of names.

Terminology Lesson: For folks newer to SEO, until August of 2015 there were 7 results in the map pack. On August 7, Google reduced that number to 3.

As everyone was familiar with 7 being the map pack and this was a far lower number, it became referred to as the snack pack.

If you run a local business and want in the map results, here’s a guide on Local SEO.

I: Discover More Places

This section of the SERPs can be a bit confusing until you really think about it.

  • I ran a query for pizza.
  • I looked through a variety of results.
  • I hit the bottom of the page.
  • They’re showing me things related to the high-level category but not necessarily related to pizza.

At the bottom of the page, Google has added a section to help me either refine my search, focus it more on sub-categories like delivery, or change gears altogether.

If I hit the bottom of the page, they’re assuming I might not have been specific in my desires or even known them and so they’re providing new options.

Talk about making page 2 irrelevant.

See Anyone's Analytics Account, in Real Time.
You can literally see real-time sales and conversion data for any website, and which campaigns drove that traffic. Start your free trial today.

SERP with Google Ads

Right… all this and we still haven’t seen much in the way of ads. So, let’s kill two birds with one stone and look at the SERP:

SERP with Google Ads

I & I2: Ads

I don’t think any of us really need any insight into what this section is for.

It’s what pays for all that Google is and let’s then do things like buy Burning Man.

J: Shopping Results

Sometimes they’re tucked away at the right, sometimes they’re placed in a carousel within the results themselves but at its core, the shopping ad units are simply Google Ads power by product-specific data.

If you sell products, have them in a database, invest in Google Ads and don’t have a shopping feed set up to power their shopping ads, it’s definitely something to look into.

K & K2: Related Searches

Once again, we see Google dropping a couple of rows of images to distract us from page 2.

These lists are based on entity association on a topical level.

All of the books in the first list relate to the topic of the civil war and the status of being nonfiction. The second list is also related to the topic of the civil war but the status of fiction.

What’s interesting is that Google doesn’t assume from a click in this zone that you’ve actually found what you wanted in the first place but rather are inviting you down a different path.

If I click “The Civil War: A Narrative” I am taken to the page:

sej serp layout civil war book

A carousel at the top displays an expanded version of the list from the previous page. Of course, they take the time to toss in another ad in case I’d like to purchase it.

There’s a knowledge panel as this is a specifically defined entity and then there are organic results.

Additional SERP Layouts & Features

While I will publish this knowing full well that I’m going to miss some due to the sheer volume of different permutations, layouts and sections, here are a few of the more interesting layouts the occupy zones listed above:

Events

Events

Google has added events into the featured snippet area we discussed above as Section A. This just happened last February though it was on mobile prior to that.

So … get your event schema up-to-date.

And if we’re going to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Tokyo we probably need a place to stay.

Travel

If you run hotels or are just looking for a place, a quick query on Google and you’ll find in the layout:

sej serp layout hotels

A carousel and map lend the familiar options and you’re guided down the path towards a conversion.

While this is similar to the traditional map layout, the volume of filters and options make it a massive threat to those in the travel sector.

The way into this section is paid via Google Hotel Ads.

Twitter

For topics that are trending we see:

 sej serp layout joker

Where Google is pulling in tweets from fairly strong Twitter accounts right into the search results.

And More…

As noted above, I know I’m likely missing many.

In future pieces, I’ll be diving into some specifics on news, maps, images, and video but if you can think of any content blocks or zones I left out… please don’t wait until then.

We’d love to see them posted on our Facebook post on just this subject, which we’ve set up here.

Why Does This Matter?

You may be wondering why it matters. You’re focused on the top 10 organic links or maybe the featured snippets so why does any of the rest concern you?

The first and most obvious answer is that knowing the various zones and elements on the page informs you as to the opportunities there. In fact, for the first query I entered above there are many opportunities buried in there.

Think about the query and the layout and question always whether there are elements on the page that would steer the users to subsets.

I asked, “what is the civil war”. Might I be sidetracked by a “People also ask”?

Could I get pulled into YouTube? What suggested searches might I click as Google tries to keep me from journeying to page 2?

In these are hidden opportunities.

But there’s more than that.

Within many of these sections, you’re being told specifically how Google is connecting the dots on your topic.

For broad topics think of what the “Searches related to” (G) section is telling you. Think about what the Related Entities (F) mean and how they relate to the content you should be including on your site.

For narrower topics think about what the “People also ask” (C) and Knowledge Panels (B) are signaling.

If people are “also asking” question that Google has deemed relevant to the questions you ask, should you not be answering them too?

Do the “Related Searches” (K) not tell you what entities Google considers related? Heck, they say so right in the naming of the section.

And of course, look to the formats. If Google wants to provide results in specific formats for specific queries, it’s likely that the searchers and responding to them. That means they’ll respond to you if you produce it.

Looking at the SERPs can tell you a LOT about how Google is connecting entities together and if they are, then doing the same can’t help but send a strong signal of relevancy.

When thinking about your content strategy… look to the SERPs.

Not to Mention Mobile SERPs

I’ve used a lot of examples here and they’ve all learned on the desktop. What can I say, I had to choose one and it was easier to get screenshots.

The same basic elements exist on mobile, but you will often find them arranged in a different order.

Pay attention to this of course as it tells you how relevant each zone is on different devices. If you’re ranking highly in organic on mobile, you may be buried beneath more videos and carousels than on desktop.

Knowing this will help you understand your traffic and where to put your efforts based on where your market conducts their queries.

What it tells you about your subject however remains constant, however, it may advise you on how that content is formatted.

Categorized in Search Engine

[This article is originally published in cpomagazine.com written by  - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Robert Hensonw]

In an age where the Internet is simply an indispensable part of life, the use of a search engine is possibly at the foundation of the user experience. This is a world where near instantaneous access to information is not simply a ‘nice to have’ for researchers and writers, it is at the bedrock of our modern consumer society. Is the way in which we find takeout food, restaurants, household furnishings, fashion – and yes even friends and lovers. In short, without search engines, the machine that powers our modern world begins to falter.

We are increasingly reliant on search engines – but it may be instructive to understand just how much data Google is now handling. Within Google’s range of products, there are seven with at least one billion users. In its privacy policy, Alphabet (Google’s parent company) outlines its broad and far-reaching data collection. The amount of data the company stores is simply staggering. Google holds an estimated 15 exabytes of data, or the capacity of around 30 million personal computers.1

However, it is worth noting that Google is not alone in the search engine space. There are other players such as Microsoft’s Big. Yahoo Search and Baidu. All of them are mining data. However, there can only be that one ‘Gorilla in the Sandpit’ – and that is undoubtedly Google. To explore just how search engines may infringe on our rights to privacy Google gives us a yardstick to what they would characterize as ‘best practice’.

Nothing in life is free … Including search engines

Consumers are becoming increasingly aware that the old maxim of ‘nothing in life is free’ is even more applicable than when it was penned. In fact, there is an associated saying ‘if something is free you are getting exactly what you pay for.’

Herein lies the problem with the use of search engines. They offer an essential service – but that service is certainly not free of cost. That cost is a certain level of intrusion into our lives in the form of search engine companies like Google gathering data about our online habits and using that data to fine-tune marketing efforts (often by selling that data to third parties for their use).

But that is only the outcome of using a search engine. For many consumers and consumer advocate groups, the real problem lies deeper than that. It revolves around awareness and permission. Are search engine companies free to gather and use our data without explicit permission- can we opt out of such an arrangement?

The answer is both yes and no. Reading search engine company user agreements it becomes clear that we (at least historically) we have been empowering companies like Google to use the data that they gather in almost any way that they see fit. But lately, we have seen a huge effort by search engine companies to make sure that consumers are aware that they can limit the amount of data that is gathered. That was not always the case – user agreements are almost never perused with great care. Most people are not freelance attorneys and are defeated by the legalese and intricacies of most user agreements and outlines of a privacy policy.

However, the real problem is that although the gathering of data and the leveraging of that data for profit may represent a betrayal of the relationship between consumer and search engine company there is a larger issue at stake, beyond even the right to privacy – and this is data security.

Google has a far from the perfect record as regards security – but it is better than many other tech companies. However, mistakes do happen. In 2009, there was a bug in Google docs that potentially leaked 0.05% of all documents stored in the service. Taken as a percentage this does not seem like a terribly large number, but 05% of 1 billion users is still 500,000 people. Google has no room for error when it comes to data protection.

Another fact worth noting is that Google’s Chrome browser is a potential nightmare when it comes to privacy issues. All user activity within that browser can then be linked to a Google account. If Google controls your browser, your search engine, and has tracking scripts on the sites you visit (which they more often than not do, they hold the power to track you from multiple angles. That is something that is making Internet users increasingly uncomfortable.

Fair trade of service for data

It may seem that consumers should automatically feel extremely uncomfortable about search engines making use of the data that they gather from a user search. However, as uncomfortable as it may seem to some consumers are entering into a commercial relationship with a search engine provider. To return to a previous argument ‘there are no free lunches’. Search engines cost money to maintain. Their increasingly powerful algorithms are the result of many man hours (and processing power) which all cost huge amounts of money. In return for access to vast amounts of information, we are asked to tolerate the search engine companies use our data. In most instances, this will have a minimum impact on the utilitarian value of a search engine. Is this not a tradeoff that we should be willing to tolerate?

However, there is a darker side to search engine companies harvesting and using data that they have gleaned from consumer activity. Take for instance the relationship between government agencies and search engine companies. Although the National Security Agency in the United States has refused to confirm (or deny) that there is any relationship between Google and itself there are civil rights advocates who are becoming increasingly vocal about the possible relationship.

As far back as 2011, the Electronic Privacy Information Center submitted a Freedom of Information Act request regarding NSA records about the 2010 cyber-attack on Google users in China. The request was denied – the NSA said that disclosing the information would put the US Government’s information systems at risk.

Just how comfortable should we be that the relationship between a company like Google and the NSA sees that government agency acting as a de facto guardian of its practices and potential weaknesses when it comes to data protection – and by extension privacy?

It’s complicated

The search for a middle ground between the rights of the individual to privacy and the bedrock of data protection vs the commercial relationship between themselves and search engine companies is fraught with complexities. What is becoming increasingly clear is that a new paradigm must be explored. One that will protect the commercial interests of companies that offer an invaluable service and the rights of the individual. Whether that relationship will be defined in a court of law or by legislation remains to be seen.

Categorized in Search Engine
Page 1 of 14

Get Exclusive Research Tips in Your Inbox

Receive Great tips via email, enter your email to Subscribe.
Please wait

airs logo

Association of Internet Research Specialists is the world's leading community for the Internet Research Specialist and provide a Unified Platform that delivers, Education, Training and Certification for Online Research.

Newsletter Subscription

Receive Great tips via email, enter your email to Subscribe.
Please wait

Follow Us on Social Media

Book Your Seat for Webinar GET FREE REGISTRATION FOR MEMBERS ONLY      Register Now