Abine has announced the new feature in conjunction with Data Privacy Day 2015, and search engines Yahoo! and Bing will be added to the service soon.
Abine tells us,
With a simple 'on-off' toggle, Private Search will finally let users search Google without worrying about their search queries being saved, shared, sold, and connected to their real names -- a level of search engine privacy not possible with any other service on the market.
Integrated into Abine's award-winning online privacy suite Blur, the Private Search option allows Firefox users to toggle on/off Google tracking for search, and keeps users signed out of Google Search.
Blur's Private Search is ideal for anyone who wants more privacy with their search habits, those who want to make it harder for advertising dollar-chasers to collect and sell your data, and anyone who wants a clean, de-personalized search interface for (arguably) more accurate search results. This makes my Google search research much easier, knowing I'm getting less tailored results.
How to use Blur's Private Search with Google
Blur (the evolution of MaskMe and Do Not Track Plus) is available for Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and there are apps for Android and Apple iOS, but Google Private Search is currently only on the Firefox version, although there is currently no app for Windows Phone.
Using it requires signing up for Abine's Blur product -- though all it requires is an email address and a password, and users only interested in the Private Search tool can switch off Blur's other features in Settings.
- Add the Blur (formerly Do Not Track Me) Add-on to Firefox
- Create a Blur account (email + password) or log in
- Click the Blur icon in the Firefox toolbar to get a mini-menu
- At the bottom, click Settings
- Under Global Defaults, toggle Don't Track My Searches to "on"
- Visit Google.com and do some test searches
- Return to Blur's Settings and customize the menu to your satisfaction
In my first day of pre-launch trial, I noticed Blur's Private Search stopped Google's tracking me on YouTube, but allowed us to remain signed-in to Gmail and Google Plus.
Using Private Search gives a very different Image Search experience, and markedly different results -- results that are, for me as a journalist, much more useful and productive.
With Blur's tool, Google's search results showed the internet giant was still tracking my IP address, seen in 'localized' results.
Despite a growing public resistance to online data collection by internet companies, and notable user dislike toward Google's use of force and coercion for users to use both their real names and a single identity across the Internet, Google still dominates 75% of the search market.
That's because Google Search still works well, and aside from the opt-outs Google has allowed, users have been powerless to stop Google from tracking them.
Abine explained, "A simple search unlocks an entire realm of data about ourselves, which is collected, filed and sold by Google to organizations looking to target us personally for advertising, personal profiling or surveillance."
Abine told ZDNet,
Being able to search on Google anonymously, without the worry of stored cookies, search history or IP addresses means users won't be targeted based on their most private information (like home address, medical questions, legal or financial advice) by Google or any third party vendor.
Blur is Abine's all-in-one online privacy suite, combining former products Do Not Track Me and DeleteMe and adding a range of consumer data protections and layering it with AES-256 encryption, plus 2 factor authentication and a backup passphrase.
Blur (free version) wraps together Abine's own Password Management, Masked Emails, and Tracker Blocking, as well as a few more consumer privacy goodies -- such as intent to provide breach notifications on websites you visit.
Premium ($39/year) includes those things and Device Sync, Backups, Masked Credit Cards, Masked Phone Numbers and Priority Support. Abine states, "Many free apps and services come with a hidden cost: user data is sold to advertisers. The only way we make money is through Premium subscriptions."
Rob Shavell, CEO of Abine, told ZDNet, "By the end of 2015, anybody who wants to use the Internet safely should be using Private Search, alongside a password manager and a secure payments service." He added, "Blur users can use the best search engine the way it used to be -- simple and not nosy."
Some readers will recognize Abine as the (recommended) service we used in our widely-read features on data dealers, How To Remove Yourself from People Search Websites and How to Protect Yourself From People Search Sites.
Ultimately, anonymity online is a very difficult state to achieve, and we're left to assess our objectives and make the best decisions we can with the tools at hand.
Abine's Private Search and its product Blur are a huge step in the right direction for the majority of people who are vulnerable consumers at the whim of corporations and slow-moving (if not plain ignorant, star-struck or downright bought out) legal protections.
By no fault of its own, Blur's Private Search can't promise true anonymity, but the tool is an important one that I'll be using, both to throw another monkey wrench in the data industrial complex works, and to draw another battle line in the mine-not-yours war over monetizing my private information.
ZDNet is still experimenting with Blur and Private Search, we have reached out to Abine with further questions about technical implementation, and we will update this article with any significant findings.