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Startpage has recently announced thay they are going to require JavaScript for searches, which means that I will be removing them from Privacy Browser. I am leaning towards Monocles as the replacement default search engine, but I would be interested in any feedback or suggestions. redmine.stoutner.com/issues/72 contains further background and information about the three search engines I am considering.

@bob Metager is already on the list. See redmine.stoutner.com/issues/72 which includes a link to the information about why it is unlikely to be the top choice replacement for Startpage.

@privacybrowser hi, why not add a searx with a choice of instances?

@privacybrowser

Have you considered Searx ? From a privacy stand point they're great.

@PublicNuisance Yes, Searx used to be the default search engine before Startpage. But instances kept being rate limited or going offline entirely. There is a bit of information about it at stoutner.com/switching-to-star

Monocles, which I am considering as a replacement, is a highly customized Searx instance. I have been in contact with Arne, who hosts it, to see if he has been able to mitigate the rate-limiting problem.

@privacybrowser mojeek isn't bad. I haven't tried the others though. I'll give 'em a shot.

@herag I have recorded some thoughts about Mojeek at redmine.stoutner.com/issues/57 . Based on those notes, I would be more inclined to select Mojeek than Metager.

@sl1200 @herag YaCy is an interesting project. Are you aware of a public instance that produces good results?

@privacybrowser I think before you remove them from your list, it’s important to understand what the JS is for. The use of JS doesn’t equate to a privacy issue, JS can be used in a totally benign way.

I don’t see this very important piece of context in your post. Do you know what the JS they intend to introduce does?

@kev JavaScript is a complete disqualification. See stoutner.com/requirements-for- Also see the section on JavaScript in the Guide inside Privacy Browser.

@privacybrowser unless I’m missing something (apologies if I am and just being dumb) but that post still doesn’t explain _why_.

Why does Startpage (or any other search engine) requiring JS automatically make it non-private in your eyes?

If that JS is tracking visitors to the hilt (a la Goog) then yeah, absolutely. But if you don’t know what the JS does, how can you say it’s less private?

The what and the why are very important here.

@kev Because the vast majority of the tracking techniques that can follow you between devices and across IP addresses are based on JavaScript. Browsing the internet with JavaScript disabled is the default on Privacy Browser, and the default search engine for Privacy Browser needs to comply with that. There are far too many bad examples to mention here. Perhaps just one will suffice:

fosstodon.org/@privacybrowser/

@privacybrowser oh I get that - tracking can be all kinds of bad. But are Startpage doing that? Again, just because they require JS doesn’t mean they’re doing anything nefarious.

@kev Correct. There is no way to know if they are tracking you once JavaScript is enabled. Have you ever tried to read minified JavaScript?

Hence, once a site requires JavaScript, there is no longer any guarantee that they are not tracking you. The whole premise of Privacy Browser is to stop having to trust a website’s promise that they are not tracking you and instead use technical means to insure that it is not possible that they are invading your privacy.

@privacybrowser I struggle to read un-minified JavaScript! 😂😂

@kev
FYI, privacy browser blocks JS, cookies, DOM storage etc. on all websites by DEFAULT. It has a little button on the top right corner for toggling JS temporarily.

Privacy browser is more focused on advanced users and even these default settings break most websites.
( of course you can change all these settings globally or per domain )

I agree that JS is not always bad, but for highly privacy focused browsers like this, it makes sense to block them.
@privacybrowser

@oausi Qwant is an interesting project. Their lite site used to be included in Privacy Browser, but it was removed because it didn’t work reliably. It would frequently return empty results. I just tested it, and it worked well for web results, but was intermittent for image results.

redmine.stoutner.com/issues/72

@futureisfoss Are you aware of a public instance that produces reliably good results that I can use as the default search engine in Privacy Browser?

@privacybrowser
whooglesearch.net looks good on privacy browser. Also you can find a list of instances on the github page I linked before.

Personally I use searx for most things, but I can see where something like whoogle could be useful - it makes the migration from google easy for people.

But again, all the reliability or rate limiting issues you said about searx could affect this one too sadly.

@futureisfoss I hadn’t heard of Whoogle before. It looks interesting, but I am unlikely to use a default search engine that has a curse word on the front page if there are other options, just as good, that don’t.

@privacybrowser
Ah, I understand. But the curse word is only present on that instance, there's a list of other instances on their github page.

@futureisfoss The section on public instances starts with this text, which confirms your suspicion about rate limiting.

“Note: Use public instances at your own discretion. Maintainers of Whoogle do not personally validate the integrity of these instances, and popular public instances are more likely to be rate-limited or blocked.”

github.com/benbusby/whoogle-se

@privacybrowser
Yeah, basically any meta search engine could have this problem of rate limiting.

Its about finding good instances. There's a browser addon called "Privacy redirect" and the searx instances listed on it are usually good.

The one I use is tromland.org/searx but unfortunately they moved to a more customized instance search.trom.tf that isn't optimized for mobile screens. Don't know when they'll close the 1st one. Maybe @tio could give us more insight 🤔

@futureisfoss @privacybrowser Sorry about search.trom.tf not being very mobile friendly, I didn't have time to fix that. The tromland instance will close in a week or so when the domain expires.

@futureisfoss @tio Getting results from other search engines is a fundamental design constraint that is likely to prevent a search engine from ever being the final answer. Some search engines, like Startpage, get around this by paying the other engines for their results, which provides them access without being rate limited. Others, like Mojeek, have their own index, which is probably the answer. But I have a concern about Mojeek described in the link in the original post.

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