SearXNG is a meta-search engine.
We already described SearXNG in the article entitled “Are you aware of the privacy impact of online searches and thus the right choice of search engine? (updated)” related to the search engines or meta-search engines which respect privacy.
We recall below, from that article, some information about SearXNG.
|No founder; it’s an open source||- Self-hosted|
- No cookies
- No user tracking
- No user profiling
- About 70 supported search engines
- Easy integration with any search engine
- Secure (HTTPS/SSL)
|It is open source and depends on the location of the server on which an instance is installed and thus on user access (public instances list)||Metasearch engine - Private search||It depends on the instance’s location|
SearXNG development was started in the middle of 2021 as a fork of the SearX project by its former maintainer.
You can find the differences between SearX and SearXNG here.
Additionally, SearXNG can be used over Tor for online anonymity.
How does SearXNG protect privacy?
SearXNG protects the privacy of its users in multiple ways regardless of the type of the instance (private, public). Removal of private data from search requests comes in three forms:
- Removal of private data from requests going to search services
- Not forwarding anything from a third party services through search services (e.g. advertisement)
- Removal of private data from requests going to the result pages. - Removing private data means not sending cookies to external search engines and generating a random browser profile for every request. Thus, it does not matter if a public or private instance handles the request, because it is anonymized in both cases. IP addresses will be the IP of the instance. But SearXNG can be configured to use proxy or Tor. Result proxy is supported, too. SearXNG does not serve ads or tracking content unlike most search services. So private data is not forwarded to third parties who might monetize it. Besides protecting users from search services, both referring page and search query are hidden from visited result pages.
What’s happened when you send a query through a SearXNG instance?
We reproduce the steps below:
- You send your query from a SearXNG instance;
- The SearXNG instance sends your query to the search engines set by default on every specific SearXNG instance1;
- The search engines (for instance, DDG or Qwant) that receive your query elaborate on it and send the response to the SearXNG instance.
Is your data or personal data transmitted to search engines?
The answer is NO, and precisely:
- None of your data nor personal data is transmitted from the SearXNG instance except:
- Your query;
- The language you selected on the SearXNG instance;
- The technical parameters are needed to form the same query.
- No metadata is transmitted.
In the end, only your query, the language you selected on the SearXNG instance, and the technical parameters needed to form the same query are transmitted to the search engines.
Can the search engines see your data or install cookies or other stuff on your browser?
The answer is: No, they cannot.
Indeed, the search engines (for example, DDG or qwant) that receive your query through the SearXNG instance:
- Do not know from where (IP or location) your query comes and see your IP since they are talking only with the SearXNG instance;
- Acquire only the IP of the SearXNG instance you used for your query.
- Cannot send your browser cookies or other data to track you since the search engines that receive your query are only connected to the SearXNG instance and not to your web browser.
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All the SearXNG instances (private and public) might differ from each other because it depends on the settings chosen by the admin. However, you can view and even modify what the engines set by default via Preferences => Engines. ↩︎