Brave Launches Privacy-Preserving Search Engine in Beta

It’s the latest addition to the browser’s suite of tracking-prevention tools.

AccessTimeIconJun 22, 2021 at 4:00 p.m. UTC
Updated May 9, 2023 at 3:20 a.m. UTC
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Privacy-oriented web browser Brave has launched a new feature in beta, Brave Search, which does not track users’ searches or what they click on. 

The browser looks to rival other search engines: Google is top of mind but other firms like DuckDuckGo have carved out a small but growing niche among tracking-wary web users.

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  • “Brave Search extends the same privacy and independence guarantees that Brave has made to browser users,” Brave CEO Brendan Eich told CoinDesk in an email. “Brave Search is based on an independently built search index, whereas other search engines are critically dependent on big tech search engines under the hood.”

    The new service offers fully anonymous searching and is transparent regarding how search results are ranked, Brave added.

    Brave Search is based on Tailcat, the open search engine Brave acquired in March. The move continues Brave’s march to build a competitive and private alternative to other browsers, with Brave News being another recent addition.

    Prior to this, Brave had only been able to offer search through third-party providers. While that met some of the company’s needs, Eich said Brave realized the search experience could be improved upon.

    “In spite of the need for a better search experience, most search engines are not equipped to build one,” Eich, the developer of JavaScript and a co-founder of the Mozilla Project, said, adding: 

    “In fact, nearly every single Western search engine is nothing more than Google or Bing search under a different name, a so-called skin. Because we don’t rely exclusively on Big Tech search engines under the hood as other private search engines do, we’re able to give our users the privacy guarantees they expect from Brave products.”

    Brave Search uses an anonymous crowd-based indexing algorithm (so it can scale user growth to cover pages that matter) and doesn’t have to crawl the entire web just to answer common queries. Some features, like images, will still be accessed from Microsoft Bing. 

    Google is still the elephant in the room. According to one estimate, the search giant does as many searches in about 12 minutes as DuckDuckGo does in a day.

    Brave Search will not display ads during the initial phase of the beta, but plans to offer both ad-free paid search and ad-supported free search options. The company will consider bringing private ads with BAT revenue to Brave Search at a later date. 

    Said Eich: “As Brave Search grows, the anonymized contributions from the community will improve and refine our results, and will help Brave Search provide the relevant results that will make it on par with big search engines, minus the tracking.”

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