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Security & privacy

This new privacy-focused search engine wants to replace Google

If you use the internet, your privacy is always at risk. Every website you visit and every account you create makes you vulnerable to bad actors and companies looking to learn more about you.

While you can’t have guaranteed privacy, you can take some steps to reduce your digital footprint. Depending on your browser, you have some power to opt out of third-party cookies and other tracking tools. There’s also an online tool that lets you opt out of many advertising and marketing companies in a few easy steps. Tap or click here for more information.

Google has been negligent with its users’ privacy, and yet it remains the most popular search engine in the world. A challenger has made its appearance just this week, focusing on a privacy standpoint. How does it differ from Google?

Check You out

You.com is an ad-free search engine that launched in beta this month. The program was developed by a former chief scientist at Salesforce Socher. In a Twitter post, he describes you.com as “a private search engine that summarizes the web for you.”

The site’s AI-powered algorithm uses NLP (natural language processing) to improve search results. In this way, the search tool attempts to understand your queries as a human being would.

You.com currently has no ads, and search results are not determined by how much a company spends on advertising. Also, there are no targeted ads or tracking tools. The FAQ states that there may be future ads dependent on your searches, but they won’t be linked to you.

Though the search tool gets some revenue through affiliate links, these partnerships don’t affect how products are displayed or ranked.

RELATED: Think Big Tech knows a lot? Your ISP is just as bad

Privacy first

In private mode, You.com doesn’t store queries, clicks, preferences or location. This means that localized searches, like finding the best restaurant near you, won’t work.

Your query data is sent to partner apps such Microsoft, Yelp, Craigslist, AP News and other apps, but the data comes from the You.com IP address and thus is anonymous. Your IP address is not shared anywhere. No cookies are used in private mode.

When not in private mode, your IP address is shared with partners to get localized results such as weather and nearby museums. The personalized mode gives you the option to create an account to save your preferences, but you don’t have to do this.

You can select your preferred sources and modify the order for apps to appear in a search. First-party cookies are used to enable You.com’s customization features, not to track your activity.

You.com

Privacy in browsers

Here is how the most popular browsers compare in terms of privacy.

Brave

  • Brave’s servers don’t see or store your browsing data and it’s never sold to advertisers.
  • Brave’s default settings block advertising, trackers, malware, phishing and malicious advertising and plug-ins.

Firefox

  • You don’t need an email address to download Mozilla Firefox.
  • Trackers are blocked by default.
  • Global protection levels let you choose which trackers and scripts are blocked or allowed.
  • Firefox comes with a password manager, breach alerts, private browsing mode and secure form autofill.

Tor

  • Tor connects you to multiple servers before you get to your destination, with your data encrypted at each node. This makes it very difficult to track your activity.
  • Tor blocks third-party trackers and ads.
  • Your cookies and browsing history are automatically cleared when you’re done browsing.

Safari

  • Safari blocks cross-site tracking so you don’t have to worry about being watched from one website to another.
  • Safari blocks malicious websites and pop-ups.
  • Apple’s browser has built-in protection against you from malware and phishing scams.
  • Safari’s built-in password manager (Keychain) lets you know if a site you saved was part of a data breach.

Microsoft Edge

  • Edge blocks trackers and blocks ad providers from watching your online activity.
  • Three levels of privacy let you choose which sites to block or allow.
  • The Password Monitor alerts you if you land on a compromised website.

Keep reading

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