Programs that respect your privacy

Privacy Browser Will Never Monetize the Default Search Engine

This morning I received the following email.

Hi Soren,

I hope all is well. I’m Chris – CMO at Startpage and I came across your Privacy Browser as I was looking into F-Droid.

I saw Startpage on the screenshots on
I assume you’re a fan and wanted to reach out to hear what you think of Startpage and how it is currently integrated in Privacy Browser.
If possible I would like to help you in monetizing the searches coming to Startpage from Privacy Browser.

I look forward hearing from you.

All the best, Chris

Christiaan Solcer

Privacy Browser will never monetize the default search engine for the following two reasons.

If the search engine is monetized, decisions about the search engine are no longer made in the best interest of the users

I currently select the list of search engines included in the browser, and the default search engine and homepage, based on what I consider to be best for users. You can read the rationale for switching to Startpage as part of the 3.2 release. As noted in that post, there are things I don’t like about Startpage, and it is likely I will switch to something else in the future if I can find something better.

But if I formed a financial relationship with Startpage, that would unduly influence any decision to switch to a different default search engine in the future. Instead of making the decision based on the best interests of the users, it would be made on which search engine offered the most money.

Once you monetize the search engine, there is a huge incentive to not block privacy invasions

Mozilla makes almost all their money by monetizing the default search engine in Firefox. In 2018 they made $435 million. Do you think search engines would be willing to pay them that much money if they couldn’t track what individual users are searching for? For example, if I responded to the email above expressing interest in receiving money for using Startpage as the default search engine, do you think they would be OK with me continuing to block their trackers?

Naughty, naughty.

My personal belief is that the primary reason why Mozilla only makes token attempts to protect user privacy is because they are financially tied to allowing the default search engine to track users. For example, they do not disable JavaScript by default. They have an exceptionally lose Referrer Policy. They don’t integrate an ad blocker into default installs.

This corrupt relationship between search engines and browsers is the primary reason why I started development of Privacy Browser. There is no chance that I will ever monetize the default search engine, no matter how much money they offer.

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9 responses to “Privacy Browser Will Never Monetize the Default Search Engine”

  1. Wow! You stand with your beliefs and that’s one of the reasons I love your browser. Thanks for sharing.

  2. This is the reason I choose this browser is because the level of transparency that you provide.

  3. Hi Soren, thanks for your honest approach. To many people are all about the money and not about ethics.

    People like you, really do make the difference, and I want to thank you for that.

    Your browser is simply the best and most trustworthy out there.

  4. The reason for firefox don’t blocking js by default and not masking referer is that firefox is not just a browser for tin foil hat people, it is also for non techies so they should keep balance.

    Please don’t spread false info.

    Also you can read why even tor browser team aren’t agree with disabling js:

    Also firefox disables google tracking also, and other tracking scripts, just not ads because it hurts webmasters income and it will cause them to completely block it in future.

    I didn’t expected to hear this false info from someone like you that i trusted.

    Good luck friend.

    • The only way to regain our privacy requires doing things that will break some websites. If browsing with JavaScript disabled becomes the default, web masters will redesign their websites to work with JavaScript disabled by default.

      Regarding Mozilla, they do just enough privacy theater to pretend they care without doing anything real that will jeopardize their default search engine income. If they ever block Google Analytics by default on all websites (like UltraPrivacy does) then you will know that change is in the air.

  5. […] is for this reason that I have committed that Privacy Browser will never monetize the default search engine. I have also publicly explained the criteria for including a search engine in the default list in […]

  6. […] Only in rare instances can I imagine ever discussing significant aspects of the software I develop outside of public channels. For example, if a user has a security bug report that is not being actively exploited, it would be appropriate to communicate that via email, so that it can be fixed before bad guys become aware of it. In a case like that, after the bug is fixed and deployed, I would copy the text of the email communication into a bug report for public consideration. Recently I had email communication with Mojeek regarding a blog post they were writing about Privacy Browser. After their blog post went public, I copied that email conversation into my own blog post so that everyone would be aware of what was discussed. (If you ever send me an email of significance to the project, as per my privacy policy, expect me to make it public.) […]