Requirements for a Search Engine to Be Included


Some people might be interested to know what the requirements are to be included as a search engine in Privacy Browser.

  1. The search engine must work with JavaScript and cookies disabled.
  2. The search engine must produce usable results.

If a search engine has one URL that works with JavaScript disabled and a second URL that works with JavaScript enabled, I will include both URLs as long as the search engine complies with item 1 above.

Some search engines allow users to alter the default functionality, which usually requires cookies. This behavior seem reasonable to me, but default functionality of the website, like advancing pages in the search results, must work without cookies.

The current list of search engines is as follows.

  • Startpage
  • Mojeek
  • DuckDuckGo – JavaScript disabled
  • DuckDuckGo – JavaScript enabled
  • Google
  • Bing
  • Yahoo – JavaScript disabled
  • Yahoo – JavaScript enabled

Startpage is the current default search engine, although there are things I don’t like about them, and I would be happy to switch if I could find something better.

I have considered switching to Mojeek as the default search engine, but there are concerns there as well, and currently it is not as good as Startpage.

DuckDuckGo used to be the default search engine, but it was supplanted when their privacy chops started going down hill.

Searx was removed from the list because it couldn’t consistently produce usable results. Qwant was also removed from the list because they also couldn’t consistently produce usable results.

Google, Bing, and Yahoo are included because, despite none of those companies caring about your privacy, they all meet the two requirements above. Even though they would like to, they can’t do much spying with JavaScript disabled.

Users can add whatever search engine they like using the custom option.

5 comments

  1. Soren, have you considered adding etools private search or MetaGer to your search list albeit that I don’t imagine you would think either could replace Startpage?
    Both work on your browser with the full range of blocklists in operation.

    I have etools as a bookmark on Privacy Browser. It seems you must allow first party cookies in order to get beyond page one of the results. I use the mobile site on my phone but I see the desktop version has quite a lot of search information. There’s no specific image search though.

    As it happens I have MetaGer as my home site on Privacy Browser. The approach you reported from Startpage confirmed me in this choice. The English language site primarily uses Bing and something called Scopia.

    Incidentally, both etools and MetaGer have apps which require choice of browser to open the link. Etools is only about 150KB but not FOSS and only on Play Store or via Aurora. MetaGer has recently appeared on F-droid.

    I also mention the apps because they would make setting preferences such as safe search easier. Direct on Privacy Browser you would have the issue of losing preferences if you delete cookies on exit.

    MetaGer offers an anonymous proxy and I find it works better than the Startpage version or the old one on the original Searx. Out of interest do you think use of a proxy is worthwhile for increasing privacy?

    Tim

    1. I have anticipated that a search engine would require cookies just to perform basic functionality. I would consider that to be disqualifying just like requiring JavaScript. As such, I would not consider etools.ch to be a viable candidate. I have updated to original post to specifically require basic features of search engines to work without cookies.

      MetaGer looks very interesting to me. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I will test it for awhile and intend to add it to the list of search engines for the next release. https://redmine.stoutner.com/issues/660

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