All major search engines collect, store and share search data – that is how they make much of their money. Some, such as Google claim that the data is held in a way which is “anonymous and untraceable” but that is not always the case. Certainly Google can assist any state or law enforcement organisation with a legitimate enquiry (for a small fee).
This data can also be accessed by rogue employees and, more scary, indirectly by advertisers. Most search engines send your search criteria along with details about your computer, location and IP address to the sites you click on, therefore allowing them access to data about you!
Find out more about what can happen when search engines store data about YOU.
Search engines also “bubble” you. If you do two searches on Google or your regular search engine – one from your own computer and one from someone else’s, you may find that the seach gives different results! This is because you are being “bubbled” or categorised and your search results are being filtered, based on your previous searches and click history. If, for instance, your click history and search keywords indicate you have Republican leanings, you are more likely to be directed to sites with the same leaning. This means that you are not getting a balanced search, but are getting a filtered one. Learn more about being “bubbled”.
What can I do about it?
Change your Search engine to one that does not collect, store or share any information about you. Make it your main search engine and don’t use the ones that track or bubble you.
You can also encrypt you route to and from duckduckgo (and others) by using https instead of http which can be intercepted by others. Https is the same encryption protocol that your bank uses when you do online banking, so is secure and virtually uncrackable. So you would connect to
If you want absolute paranoid protection, don’t even use the normal search, turn off all scripts and use html only on a secure connection by going to
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