If you are one of those people who aren’t comfortable with having their internet searches logged onto the servers of tech giants and kept there forever, then the new Private.sh search engine might be the answer for you. This new search engine uses cryptography to ensure that whatever you’re looking for cannot be traced, cannot be kept in search history, and cannot be shared with anyone. It was created by Private Internet Access (VPN product vendor) and GigaBlast (internet indexer), and it is promoted as the first genuinely private search engine on the internet.
To understand what differentiates Private.sh, it is essential to describe the problem with the “conventional” search engines that are used by most people. These engines collect personally identifiable information like the IP address and browser fingerprints of the user, profiling and trying to deliver search results that are more tailored for them. This is why searching the same keywords on Google, for example will yield different results or dissimilar ordering of results on two different computers. This information is then linked to advertising, shared with thousands of partners while raising numerous privacy violation concerns that take place in opaque technical areas.
Private.sh encrypts your searches on the client-side (your computer) using a public key, so the search engine never gets to know what the user has searched. Your IP address and browser fingerprints are also passed to the GigaBlast search engine through a proxy, so this information is again not reaching the platform. The search results that are generated by the engine are then decrypted on your device using a temporary private key. With every subsequent search request, the keypair is changed, so the chances of interception are minimized. As a result, the engine doesn’t get to know anything about your preferences, as there’s no user profiling going on, and the search results are entirely unbiased.
The only problem with search engines like Private.sh is that they do not operate on an internet index as big and comprehensive as the non-private competition. GigaBlast will, of course, try to expand its index with time, so the engine will only get better with time. In the end, it is a matter of what people prioritize. If you prefer privacy over convenience, then accepting the trade-off comes more naturally.