Have you ever thought about cutting the strings with Google?

Maybe you haven’t gone full into OSINT, but there’s no doubt that Google is powerful; and, depending upon how you look at it, that can be a good thing or a bad thing. 

Admittedly, there’s a of conveniences to using a powerful search engine. And a powerful search engine is most certainly at the top of the list of investigative tools when deep diving into cold case research. But if you’re concerned about how your private information is used on Google, you may want to explore these 10 alternatives to using Google. Unlike Google, they don’t collect information about your search history and they don’t use cookies to track the websites you visit.

Google search alternatives

When Google was launched in 1998, its creators promoted its search engine capabilities as the primary objective of the company. And it didn’t take long for the user-friendly search engine to take hold. Today, Google claims more than 92 percent of the search engine market, eclipsing competitors like Yahoo! and Bing. All the more important when you’re looking at sites to bookmark for cold case research. After all, data is the new magnifying glass, but numerous search engines are stepping up as competitors against the Google giant. Here are a few worth considering.


  1. DuckDuckGo – This U.S.-based search engine markets itself for its privacy aspects. On its website, DuckDuckGo, which launched in 2008, says it makes its money “from private ads on our search engine.” It goes on to contrast its search results to search engines like Google and Bing by saying that its ads correlate to search results users are viewing. “On other search engines, ads are based on profiles compiled about you using your personal information like search, browsing, and purchase history … we don’t collect that information.”


  1. You – Another U.S. based search engine project that was recently released has been getting a lot of attention from the media, including Forbes, which asked in this article “The End of Google Dominance?” And Venture Beat proclaimed “AI-driven search engine You.com takes on Google with $20M.” You, which describes itself as the “world’s first open search engine,” has been backed by a $20 million investment led by Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. That’s promising. 


Several leading search engines are based in other countries, including the following:


  1. MetaGer – The MetaGer, which is based in Germany, touts itself as a search engine that doesn’t track your private information. It also makes sure that you know that it is run by a nonprofit organization. “By using MetaGer, you retain full control over your data. Our anonymizing proxy keeps you protected even when you continue surfing.”


  1. SwissCows – This search engine, based in Switzerland, promises that it will never track your private information. Here’s what they say to back that promise: “With us, you will find absolute security: you search anonymously, without tracking and completely private.”


  1. Qwant Based in France, Qwant bills itself as a search engine that’s all about respect — it respects your privacy, for instance. Here are a few things it says it believes in: “Privacy is freedom,” “Privacy is a universal right,” and “We believe in another model.” Since it is primarily targeted to French-speaking users, you may need to navigate a bit to get to the English version.


  1. Mojeek – Another search engine that seems to be billing itself as the anti-Google, Mojeek makes it a point to highlight itself as an “alternative search engine that puts the people who use it first.” It also promotes the fact that it has its own crawler and index.


Google Chrome Alternatives

It’s hard to not love Google Chrome as a browser. But, as many people are starting to realize, it also is a source for gathering information about its users. 


Forbes was among the media outlets that questioned the use of Chrome for people concerned about privacy. In an article entitled, “Why you shouldn’t use Google Chrome after new privacy disclosure,” the author said that readers should be startled by Google’s data harvesting disclosures.” In fact, Zak Doffman said, it “should come as a nasty surprise.”


The Washington Post had similar concerns, asking in an article “Is Firefox better than Chrome?: It comes down to privacy.”


Doffman simply said readers should quit using Chrome as a browser, noting the “surprising amount of your data harvested by Chrome … this is a genuine threat to your privacy.”


If you’re on board with ditching Chrome for browsers that prioritize privacy, here are four alternatives:


  1. Firefox – Firefox is a very customizable, open-source browser that is popular in privacy circles. There are also many different Firefox modifications and tweaks that will give you more privacy and security. Check out Firefox Focus for a strong mobile privacy option.


  1. Brave – Brave bills itself as a user-friendly Chromium-based browser that blocks trackers and ads by default. And it doesn’t try to hide the fact that it is a better alternative to Google Chrome. Here’s what it has to say about itself on its website: The best privacy online; 3x faster than Chrome; better protection from Google and Big Tech.


  1. Tor – The Tor browser invites you to defend yourself against tracking, censorship and surveillance. Available in numerous languages, including English, the Tor browser started off as a project run by a nonprofit in 2006. The founders said they started the browser because they were concerned about internet connections that revealed who was talking to whom at any given time.


  1. Ungoogled Chromium –This open source alternative of Chromium allows for more privacy compared to Google’s Chrome.


Now what?

With issues related to privacy continually making headlines, it’s no wonder that these Google alternatives have emerged—promising users a way to do Google search without infringements on their privacy—or having to hack your way to a boosted Google search.