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.
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.
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 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:
- add it to your browser as the default search engine
- 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,
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.