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Google Faces Contender as 32 Million Users Choose Privacy-Focused Brave Search Engine

Jonathan Walker
Jonathan loves talking politics, economics and philosophy. He carries unique perspectives on everything making him a rather odd mix of liberal-conservative with a streak of independent Austrian thought.
Published: June 30, 2021
Brave launched a search engine using an independent web index that reportedly does not compromise user privacy.
Brave launched a search engine using an independent web index that reportedly does not compromise user privacy. (Image: geralt via Pixabay)

Developers of the Brave browser, which prioritizes the privacy of users, announced the launch of its search engine on June 22nd in public global beta. Brave Search, like its browser, is a privacy-based search engine providing users with an alternative to Google, but without constant surveillance and without censorship. 

On March 3, Brave announced its acquisition of the open search engine Tailcat from the company Cliqz. Tailcat serves as the foundation for Brave Search.

Brave Search is unlike the newer breed of search engines like MetaGer, Lukol, or even DuckDuckGo that provide results accumulated from a combination of different search engines with some additional features. Brave, in contrast, uses its own independent web index to provide accurate search results. It does not collect IP addresses or any kind of specific personally identifiable user information.

“Brave Search doesn’t use secret methods or algorithms to bias or censor results. We rely on anonymous community contributions to refine results, and community-created alternative ranking models to ensure diversity,” states the Brave homepage. 

For a large section of users, if Brave can curtail the blatant shadow-banning and censorship by Big Tech, it will be embraced. It could give netizens access to different perspectives versus force-feeding them only Silicon-Valley-approved news and ideologies. 

Big Tech has been busy censoring content and people, such as Twitter banning Trump; Facebook blocking alternative COVID-19 treatments; Microsoft “accidently” removing Tank Man images during the Tiananmen Square Massacre Anniversary; and Google threatening sovereign governments if they don’t follow its guidelines. 

With Google executing 95% of all online searches, newer and significantly smaller search engine platforms do not seem like they could compete. However, Google has come under intense judicial and international pressure to protect consumer privacy.  With large numbers of citizens raising concerns about how their personal data is being used online, challengers like Brave can meet the needs of these dissatisfied consumers.

In a blogpost, the company claims to have more than 100,000 users who have already signed up for beta access to Brave Search. The active user count has since surpassed 32 million.

According to Brave, the new search option offers the following features:

  1. Does not profile or track users, their queries or clicks.
  2. Unlike other privacy-oriented engines like DuckDuckGo, Brave has a “built-from-scratch” search index. But, for some queries, the company might mix in results with other search engines. The user can measure this through a “results independence” metric.
  3. Does not depend on algorithms to skew results; i.e. less bias and censorship. Community dependent ranking models.
  4. Combined with the Brave browser to offer a complete Google-free experience.
  5. An option for ad-free paid search.
  6. Brave could soon be powering other search engines.

The company has been promoting the concept of privacy-protected ads that pay publishers and users with crypto-based BAT or Basic Attention Tokens whenever users watch ads. The facility has been integrated with the Brave browser and features “1 million verified creators accepting BAT.”

As for the Brave browser, the features include ad blocking, built-in password manager, making a playlist (for iOS users), earning Brave Rewards through viewing ads and becoming a creator, accessing content directly through IFPS network, and a firewall plus VPN for paid users.

Google’s privacy is practically non-existent. For example, Google’s tracking remains active even after users switch it off; the tech giant has also silently installed Covid-19 tracking apps. Many consumers have been alarmed and want an alternative to an untrustworthy company.

“Brave’s mission is to put the user first, and integrating privacy-preserving search into our platform is a necessary step to ensure that user privacy is not plundered to fuel the surveillance economy,” states Brendan Eich, CEO and Co-founder of Brave Search on its website.