Getting Google’s Search Results While Protecting Your Privacy

Startpage
Use Startpage to get search results from Google, while protecting your privacy.

So you want to get websearch results from Google, but you don’t want them tracking you. It’s a very common problem. My preferred solution is to use Startpage. It was created by the same company that created the meta-search engine Ixquick. Startpage bills itself as the world’s most private search engine, delivering Google’s search results in “complete privacy”. It supports HTTPS connections with your browser, and it doesn’t plant any tracking cookies, record your IP address, nor save your searches.

 

Startpages's privacy
Startpage’s privacy

It also has a built-in proxy server which allows you to visit the sites in the search results without revealing your personal info and browser info to those sites. The proxy is optional, and you use it by simply clicking on the View by Ixquick Proxy link that’s included in each search result.

In the image below, you can see just how much of your personal and browser info a site gets when not using a proxy, and how little it gets when you do use Ixquick.

A comparison of your location and browser info that a website sees when you're not using a proxy, and when you're using Ixquick proxy.
A comparison of your location and browser info that a website sees when you’re not using a proxy, and when you’re using Ixquick proxy.

As you can see, the target site can’t see any of your identifying info when using the Ixquick proxy. Test it yourself by visiting My Browser Info.com (make sure you click on the See Detailed link to see all the info it can gather.)

 

Startpage Settings
Startpage settings

Startpage also allows users to save various search engine settings without having to register or create an account, which I really like.

There are two ways you can use Startpage:

  1. add it to your browser as the default search engine
  2. use the Startpage app for Android.

Setting Startpage as the default search engine in the BB10 browser is really simple. If you’re on BB10 10.2.1, just go to https://www.startpage.com , click the ‘add to Chrome’ link and then click on the green button labelled HTTPS. That’s it. Startpage is now your default search engine.

If you’re on BB10 10.3, you have to first enable Desktop Mode in the browser’s settings, and then follow the same steps as for 10.2.1. This is necessary because Startpage doesn’t officially support the BlackBerry platform, and the BB10 browser’s agent string in 10.3 doesn’t have the Chrome browser part like the 10.2.1 browser does.

There’s also a Startpage app. It’s an Android app (because, as you know,

Startpage's Android app is available on Amazon
Startpage’s Android app is available on Amazon.

Android is such a great platform of choice for people who want to protect their privacy), it’s available on Amazon and it has some advantages over the browser plugin. The main advantage is that you can set the expiry time of your search results and the pages you’re viewing. When pages and search results expire, they’re cleared from the screen and deleted from memory. You can set it so that pages expire after a certain amount of time, when you switch apps and/or when your phone goes to sleep or turns off (this also works when your screen locks).

The biggest drawback of using the app is that selecting a search result will load the result in the in-app browser, which is a very, very basic browser. To load it in an external browser, you have to long-press the result and select Open in Browser. That’s why I use the browser plugin instead of the app.

And there you have it. If you want Google’s search engine results and you want to protect your privacy from them, then head over to Startpage.

bartron

I'm programmer with 13 years experience, and a former electronics technician. My first BlackBerry was a Z10, and I'm now rocking a Passport.

  • jrohland

    I’ve been using DuckDuckGo.com for my searches. It does not return actual Google results but it can proxy to Google and other sites while protecting your ID.
    https://duckduckgo.com/about

    I have changed my Assistant and Browser search engine to DDG on my Passport.

    There is no need for an app but there is one (available in Amazon store):
    https://duckduckgo.com/app/

    There is also a BB native app which uses DDG as the engine:
    http://appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/content/37879888/?lang=en&countrycode=US

  • Anthony

    I already use this. locco_smiley_11

  • jrohland

    Very well done short Vid about the purpose of Google data collection. I agree with Mr Molyneux’s conclusion as to the real danger. I do think he misunderstands the reason Google does what it does. I believe they have a voyeurism fetish and found a way to make money from it.
    http://youtu.be/5gPGZ0zqJFk

    ~quixote

  • Anthony

    Stefan Molyneux could be wrong.

    I personally don’t like Google’s targeted ads. Eg. I do one search about toe nails and then I get ads showing the worst pictures of toe nail fungus for about a couple of weeks

    And people constantly change their minds about products. Just because I do one search for something doesn’t mean I’m interested in seeing more about it through targeted ads.

    I believe the NSA approached Google a while ago because the NSA quickly clued in to how easily people give personal information away to businesses like Google.

    Maybe the NSA planned some services with Google to skirt around actual privacy laws. Post mail is private and your free Google email is scanned. Google “street view” cars can go to places the NSA can’t.

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