How Can I Take Back My Privacy?
Invented by British computer scientist, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the world wide web has only just turned 30 years old and yet, in that short time, the world wide web has changed the way we live beyond even the inventor’s wildest expectations.
Consider what we take for granted today that was impossible 30 years ago. You couldn’t order your grocery shopping online, complete business transactions without leaving the house or even send an email. The world wide web certainly appears to have made life easier in many ways.
And yet all this has come at a price and it’s a steep one – YOUR PRIVACY. Unless you take steps to avoid it, you leave behind a digital trail of every search you have made, every item you have purchased and every location you have visited. Collectively, possibly caused by the insidious way the world wide web has taken over the world, we have been duped into giving our private information to global companies whose aim is to increase profits by selling more “stuff” and it’s easier to make a sale when you know many of the search habits of your customers.
Widespread concern about data sharing along with increased state surveillance have spooked many of us into wanting to protect our privacy more than ever but what’s the best way?
What Is An Anonymous Search Engine?
When you click on links from Google and Bing, even in private mode, the search terms are sent to the site you’re visiting in the HTTP referrer header. When you visit that site, your computer automatically shares information, such as your IP address, which can be used to identify you.
Alternative browsers however, such as Duckduckgo, redirect that request in such a way to prevent it sending your search terms to other sites. The sites know that you visited them, but they don’t know what search you entered beforehand, nor can they use personal information to identify you.
“We protect your search history, even from us,” founder Gabriel Weinberg told WIRED.
Ultimately, your online privacy is your concern and your responsibility however if you want to see fewer targeted ads and to retain ownership of your internet search history, an anonymous browser is the way to go.
How To Make DuckDuckGo the Default Search Engine in Chrome
First up, be aware of what you’re changing.
Making DuckDuckGo your default search engine will route all searches made from the Omnibar (‘address bar’) through DuckDuckGo and not Google (the default search engine in Chrome).
Google do not include DuckDuckGo in its default list of search engine options (Bing, Yahoo! and Ask Jeeves are included). The omission is curious given that Google cites it as a ‘major competitor’ in the search arena.
The good news is that although you need to add DuckDuckGo to Chrome manually it can be done in just a few clicks:
- Open the DuckDuckGo website in a new tab or window
- Click the ‘Use in Chrome’ button
- Click the ‘Add to Chrome’ button
- In Chrome, go to ‘Settings > Search Engines > Manage’
- Find DuckDuckGo
- Click the blue ‘Make Default’ button
One made default, all future searches made from the omnibar Chrome, the right click context menu, etc will now return results from your new choice.
You will not (at the time of writing) see a replacement search box on the Chrome New Tab Page, something Bing and a number of other engines do offer, but you will still have access to your top sites.
You may want to go beyond changing your default search engine in Chrome and add a few extras. DuckDuckGo has you covered here, too.
You can also add a ‘glorified bookmark’ — ‘web app’ — that takes you straight to the DuckDuckGo homepage when clicked. When installed you’ll be able to launch the engine from the Chrome App Launcher and be able to pin to your your desktop taskbar or dock, whether on Windows, Mac, Linux or Chrome OS.
A DuckDuckGo Chrome extension is also available. Installing this will add a button to the browser toolbar that shows a pop-over search box when clicked. Installing it also offers an option to see Answers from the alternative search engine embedded in Google and Bing search result pages, too.