These are our recommendations for privacy respecting (meta)search engines.
Since your needs when using a search engine can easily vary, these engines are not listed in any particular order.
Mojeek is another unique privacy respecting search engine. Unlike many of the search engines found here, it's not a metasearch engine.
Rather, it's independent; it has its own web crawler called MojeekBot.
Mojeek does not use tracking technology. They also do not store cookies on your device without first seeking your permission.
The biggest issue for many people could be that Mojeek is based in the United Kingdom, which is a five eyes country. However, this shouldn't be a concern because they say they do not store personally identifiable information.
Overall, it is a solid independent and private alternative to the big tech search engines. In fact, it's probably the direct biggest rival to the Big Tech search engines that have their own crawlers.
Metager is an open source metasearch engine. It's run by a nonprofit and the engine's entire infrastructure is based out of Germany.
It can query up to 50 search engines to return results; these other engines can include the likes of Bing and Yandex.
MetaGer will let you know the source it pulled from for every result in a query.
MetaGer does not track you and does not store your private data. Your searches are routed through a proxy and therefore made anonymous.
SearX is an open-source metasearch engine. Its source code is available on GitHub.
SearX allows you to self-host your own instance. This puts everything about the search experience in your hands. However, you'll find that your results could be lacking because they're being mixed with others'.
There is also a list of public instances. However, the catch with these public instances is that they're anonymous to the user (ie. you).
That means you'll have to trust whoever is running any given public instance you're using. In theory, a shady public instance could definitely store, log, sell, or otherwise abuse your search information without your knowledge.
Qwant is a private search engine based in France.
In certain instances, Qwant does collect data; this is usually when you create an account for more advanced features. Qwant says that they do not sell or disclose data any data they do collect.
Despite this, Qwant says that they don't use this data to create a shadow profile based off your search history or browsing habits.
DuckDuckGo is a private metasearch engine based in the US. Its one of the most popular private search engines among privacy-conscious users.
DuckDuckGo pulls from over 400 different sources, but most of the time it pulls results from Bing/Yahoo.
DuckDuckGo does not collect or share personal information. Also, no cookies are used by default, unless you change settings.
However, DuckDuckGo has stated that it does save searches.
Swisscows is based in Switzerland, which has super strong data protection and & privacy laws for users.
Swisscows doesn't store any kind of user data. They do not track users under any circumstances.
Swisscows even takes their commitment to user privacy and data protection a step further; their DataCenter is located in the Swiss Alps. They also say that their entire infrastructure is "positioned geographically outside of the EU and US."
They also have a strong commitment to family-friendly content.
Startpage is a privacy focused search engine that provides search results similar to those you would find for Google.
Startpage was originally founded as an independent company/project circa 2006. However, as of late 2019, Startpage received a large investment by System1.
System1's investment made it the majority investor in the company, but Startpage has stated that its management team retains all rights and autonomy when it comes to dealing with user privacy.
This investment stirred quite the controversy since System1 is a marketing and analytics firm. However, System1 has claimed to have taken a "privacy focused approach" to its dealings. Additionally, it's worthy to note that System1 has not directly proven itself untrustworthy since its investment into Startpage.
It's worthy to note that System1 has also acquired the alternative browser, Waterfox, as well.
Whoogle is a self-hostable search engine that only uses Google search results - minus the tracking technologies.
It shares many similarities with Searx, however Whoogle is designed to be deployed easier and quicker than Searx. Additionally, it should be emphasized that Whoogle only draws from Google search results.
There are a handful of public instances of Whoogle out there. Like Searx instances, you should be aware that there's no way to truly validate instances.
YaCy is probably the most unique search engine in our recommendations.
Granted, YaCy is a lot like Searx in that search instances can be hosted by different parties, including you.
However, YaCy is completely ran on a decentralized peer-to-peer network.
In order to use YaCy, you have to download the free and open-source YaCy Search Server.
Disconnect Search is another private search engine based in the US.
Disconnect doesn't collect personally identifiable information, such as your IP address, when you use the service. They state that the information they do collect is only that of which is voluntarily provided by the user.
They also do not track users across the web. However, they do collect "non-personally identifiable geo-location information" (but not precise location).
Any information that Disconnect Search collects will be retained for 30 days.