Privacy and the rise of the alternative search engine


  • Vivaldi Team

    Over the summer we opened our blog to guest bloggers eager to share their perspectives on privacy. In this story, Finn Brownbill explains how we can put an end to tracking in search for the purpose of data collection. 

    Click here to see the full blog post


  • Moderator

    Mojeek? That's a new one. I'll give it a try.

    edit: maybe I'll give it a miss for now. They've started giving me 403 errors, so I guess I used it too much. Back to ecosia/ddg for me.



  • Good article! However I would have liked to see some links to credible sources for some of the more bombastic claims made, like "major search engines would track everything we do, everything we say and everywhere we go" and "obtaining personal web activity from wifi networks through their Street View cars". Now I know some users - and hopefully most of Vivaldi's user base - may know about this already, but for those that do not, some trustworthy links to more information would improve the chance readers go on and do more reading on these important issues. Otherwise it just sounds like conjecture and speculation.

    Here's a link I would like people to read, it certainly opened my eyes back when I read it:
    Al Jazeera - Terms of Service.
    Then again, should people trust something written in a comic ? 😉

    I tested Mojeek, it looks good! And actually one of the few search engines apart from Google that returns relevant links as the first hits for some common queries I use to test, so that's good. And I like how you only set a single cookie, with only a deleted value 👍

    But: "Saetre, NO - detected automatically" - Do we really need to see this everywhere? I don't even have an idea where that is, you might as well have written "wildly guessed"... Is it to "improve our search experience"? 😂



  • @lonm: Could you please let me know some example searches that were causing the 403s as this shouldn’t be happening?



  • @pathduck said:

    And I like how you only set a single cookie, with only a deleted value

    We only set this cookie when you change preferences. By default we don’t create any cookies.

    But: "Saetre, NO - detected automatically" - Do we really need to see this everywhere?

    Sorry about this, yes it’s to improve your search experience but unfortunately the automatic detection isn’t perfect. However, you can set it to any country or disable it completely in preferences.


  • Moderator

    @FinnBrownbill This doesn't work:

    "how to use dot notation to access json dict in python"



  • @lonm: Just a hunch but can you try searching for “how to use dot notation to access” and let us know if that works.


  • Moderator

    @FinnBrownbill huh. That works. It doesn't seem to like "dict" or "json" as search terms.



  • @LonM Are you using this a custom search or directly from the page. I suspect the site may be checking referrer headers to see if they come from the site itself. It they don't, it throws a 403.



  • @LonM also seems that by using mojeek as search engine in Vivaldi the resulting URL is
    https://www.mojeek.com/search?q=how to use dot notation to access json dict in python
    while searching it from the mojeek input fields the URL is
    https://www.mojeek.com/search?q=how+to+use+dot+notation+to+access+json+dict+in+python
    and it's found without 403 error.



  • @iAN-CooG Good find! I told 'em to use pluses for encoding query spaces! 😱



  • @pathduck: Thanks @LonM . Yes we believe it’s to do with the way your browser is encoding the query string and not the terms used. We will look into getting this fixed.


  • - Ambassador -

    Mojeek may be a private search engine, but it lacks many configuration options (UI and others), at the moment I keep Startpage



  • Its not how much Google is earning, but what that earning is going to trouble us, other than envy. If I use Google as the search engine, it one way or other knows what I am looking for, and if Google has algorithms, it'd help me in that. What's wrong with that?

    Then, the bank knows, where I am, what I buy, and so on as I use a card. The phone service provider knows where I am at a given time, so it can send me a call, or a message. The web browser also knows where I am, if I need personalised info such as weather, etc. If I get lost, Google maps would show me the correct way. What's wrong with that?

    It most probably knows my name, my age and my address, but I don't see any reason to be worried about that, unless it sells that info to some rogues, who steal my money (which is not much) from the bank. But the bank has its 3-way checking system these days, thanks to the EU regulations.

    In today's world, one cannot stay completely private, completely anonymous, except if one decides to live in a jungle or live without all kinds of today's pluses, cards, cars, mobile phones, computers etc.

    One can't be all that paranoid. One must somehow trust one's government. Or, leave that country.


  • - Ambassador -

    It's comfortable when Google already knows what you're going to look for, but the problem is that it can get you into something called a bubble filter.
    This prevents you from finding other results when relegated to subsequent pages in the search results. It is finally the same as asking someone who always tells you that you are right, even if you are not.
    Apart from that you never know in what hands your activities on the network end, since Google traffics with this data



  • @Catweazle said in Privacy and the rise of the alternative search engine:

    Apart from that you never know in what hands your activities on the network end, since Google traffics with this data

    This is a serious allegation that has to be proved, especially the words "Google traffics."


  • - Ambassador -

    @chdsl said in Privacy and the rise of the alternative search engine:

    @Catweazle said in Privacy and the rise of the alternative search engine:

    Apart from that you never know in what hands your activities on the network end, since Google traffics with this data

    This is a serious allegation that has to be proved, especially the words "Google traffics."

    https://www.quora.com/Does-Google-sell-information-about-us



  • @Catweazle said in Privacy and the rise of the alternative search engine:

    @chdsl said in Privacy and the rise of the alternative search engine:

    @Catweazle said in Privacy and the rise of the alternative search engine:

    Apart from that you never know in what hands your activities on the network end, since Google traffics with this data

    This is a serious allegation that has to be proved, especially the words "Google traffics."

    https://www.quora.com/Does-Google-sell-information-about-us

    Quora is not the one, who made the allegation here. Also, Quora is an open platform, where anyone can say anything. If this kind of thing is proven, Google would've been closed down long ago. There are all kinds of government, EU etc agencies all over the world keeping an eye on all kinds of business entities, and if they break rules/laws, they persecuted and fined.

    But, when someone makes a statement, sometimes a dangerous statement, one has to prove it, otherwise much better not to say something that can't be proven.

    We are getting a free search service, so we don't have to sit in the library days. We are getting free browsers, so we can sit on our back in the comfort of our homes browse for everything, pay for goods, chat with friends and even find one's better half for life. But, we go on finding holes in everything. Just imagine, how many servers have to be run, how many scientists to create algorithms, How much staff have to be employed and so on and on. Whose going to pay for all that? I am actually thankful that Google is there. My life had become easier, very much easier.


  • - Ambassador -

    Google obviously has to be financed for the excellent services it offers, but not for nothing has it been reported multiple times for violating the EC's privacy policy. Not me It matters if Google knows some things about me, making suggestions on YT according to my likes and the like, but up to a certain limit. Although Google sells my data to advertisers anonymously, These in turn do not necessarily adhere to certain standards, if they know for example my exact location and other metadata resulting from my searches. I also don't like that they read my mail, even if it's just in an automated way, looking for keywords, which can easily lead to misunderstandings (in Spanish "bomba" can mean a pump to draw water or also an explosive).One thing is to use user data to pay for it, which is legitimate to some extent and another to be too intertwined with the data and track all my activity on the network "to improve the user experience". This may be legitimate under US law, but not for the EU and for me either.
    The author of the excellent blog article apart thinks similarly.



  • Now that we all have shot in about Google, we should ask what Google (aka Alphabet) is. They are not only a search provider but have their fingers in various businesses.

    Several are described the video I've linked in my blog together with a little rant some years ago. Even if they don't sell the data to others outside of their own network (which I personally doubt), they can interlink enough data to make the living of individuals to hell, e.g.:

    • If they believe (or better: their AI believes) you are living an unhealthy lifestyle the health insurance will not accept you as a low risk and adapt the price - even if it is not true that you are living an unhealthy lifestyle.
    • If you are using an Android Phone with Chrome on it, maybe they are saving your movement profile, of course only to make sure you don't lose yourself (honi soit ...), despite they only needed to track your phone at the moment when you ask google for help finding your way home and delete that data afterwards.

    Fact is, Google stores vast amounts of personal data.
    This data wants to be used - and I can't see that they don't use it, because they wouldn't store it if they didn't want to use it in the first place.


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