Blur lets you search privately on Google - gHacks Tech News

Blur lets you search privately on Google

Google Search is without doubt the most popular search engine globally. It is the major search engine, often with 75% or more market share, in most countries.

There are only a few countries, China or Russia for example, where Google Search is not the dominant search engine.

If you like to use Google Search but are concerned about privacy you have a couple of options to deal with that.

You can switch to a search engine that uses Google results but offers better privacy, Startpage comes to mind, or use proxy servers or virtual private networks instead.

The browser extension Blur, formerly known as Do Not Track, offers another option. It enables you to use Google Search like you would normally but prevents that searches, IP addresses or clicks on the site can be linked to each other and connected to you.

Note: Before you can use Blur you need to create an account at the company website (Abine). The latest download of the extension becomes available for Chrome or Firefox after you have signed up. (You can download the extensions directly on the Mozilla and Chrome web stores but at least on the Mozilla site, it is not the latest version that is offered)

blur

You may need to enable private search in the Blur interface before you can use it on Google. To do so click on the extension icon in the browser and select settings from the menu that opens up. Click on  settings for all sites and make sure that protect my search is enabled there.

When you visit Google Blur highlights that it is enabled on the site. You see the Blur icon on top of the search field and verification that your searches are anonymized by the company.

blur search

 

The search results page highlights that as well, and you will notice that you remain on Google.

I asked Abine about their implementation to better understand how it works. According to the company, private servers are used as proxies when users search on the site so that the IP address of the user searching on Google is not revealed.

In addition, cookies and user agents get replaced as well so that they don't leak information as well.

Abine assured me that they don't keep records that can be associated with users. This includes the IP address and other data.

Blur has more to offer than that including secure password generation, email masking and tracker blocking. You can find out more about the extension on the company website.

I'll stick to Startpage as my number one search engine but if you prefer the real deal on Google, Blur may be an option for you if you are worried about your privacy.

Summary
Blur lets you search privately on Google
Article Name
Blur lets you search privately on Google
Description
Blur is an extension for Chrome and Firefox that you can use to anonymize your searches on Google.
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    Comments

    1. insanelyapple said on January 28, 2015 at 10:49 pm
      Reply

      The whole idea is ridiculous – I mean the need for account at 3rd party company that claims it will protect my privacy. How we can be sure if Abine won’t sell data harvested from its users somewhere else? Because they’re saying so? Meh.

      1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 28, 2015 at 10:55 pm
        Reply

        I don’t think you need the account to use Blur to search. It is linked to an online dashboard with information though. I just tried and signed out, and private search seems to work fine (at least the indicator is still displayed).

    2. Nebulus said on January 29, 2015 at 12:24 am
      Reply

      I agree with insanelyapple. A privacy service should not require you to create an account on their servers.

    3. michaelpaul said on January 29, 2015 at 1:03 am
      Reply

      DuckDuckGo
      Works for me
      Im not up going to create account with a 3rd party to
      search privately
      makes no sense at all

      1. anon said on January 29, 2015 at 1:08 am
        Reply

        This. Either use Startpage or DuckDuckGo. You can also redirect DuckDuckGo to Startpage with the !sp bang.

    4. Tom Hawack said on January 29, 2015 at 1:44 am
      Reply

      1- “Before you can use Blur you need to create an account at the company website (Abine)” : count me out.

      2- Disconnect Search (https://search.disconnect.me/) with the choice of 4 search engines, Google included, and NO account required.

      3- Searchonymous Firefox add-on, no proxie but Google cookie manipulation.

      Abine, Abine, Abine … oh brother.

      1. Ray said on January 29, 2015 at 6:05 pm
        Reply

        Thanks for mentioning Disconnect Search. Wasn’t aware they offered a web search.

    5. Dwight Stegall said on January 29, 2015 at 3:50 am
      Reply

      Trying to block trackers is a total waste of time. Using DuckDuckgo won’t help you. It just stops Google. But what about the thousands of others? There are too many of them and they have hundreds of ways to track you.

      No matter what you do you cannot block browser fingerprinting. But some browsers give out less info than others. Opera used to give out the least before they switched to Blink. I haven’t checked it lately so I don’t know what it’s like now.

      Instead I just block cookies to sites where I don’t have accounts so I don’t have to keep wearing my hard drive out scanning for them with Superantispyware. If you don’t remove them they build up and slow your computer down. Superantispyware is the only malware scanner that can find them all and remove them.

      1. neal said on January 29, 2015 at 6:53 am
        Reply

        I do that also, Firefox has good settings for that, block all third party cookies, and a setting to allow only specific cookies to set out of the box. However, it isn’t enough, every website has trackers from third parties that use things like http request to build a profile of you whether you allow cookies or not.

        That where these addons comes in disconnect, ABP+easyprivacy, ghostery do those things. Even then, assuming you allow no cookies at all and have those privacy addons, they will still be able to track you and build a profile of you through something like canvas fingerprinting which some companies already use. It is a relative thing, like everything else, you do what you can and don’t stress over the things you can’t.

        http://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/blog/2011/09/tracking-trackers-self-help-tools

    6. Roman said on January 29, 2015 at 12:04 pm
      Reply

      Block the Google Corporation from stalking you, allow the Abine Corporation to stalk you instead.

      Out of the frying pan, in to the fire…

    7. Noel said on January 29, 2015 at 12:20 pm
      Reply

      Completely agree with insanelyapple and Tom Hawack.
      I am out, I am not going to be bothered with registration. Change the registration idea and I ‘may’ consider, as abine, you have already lost credibility.

    8. SafeSearch said on January 29, 2015 at 2:09 pm
      Reply

      Try https://search.f-secure.com/ It anonymizes any collected data + provides safety status for every link in the result. Powered by Google.

      Do a search on Google and on the above, then compare with right on a link in the search result to see the difference in tracking. The F-Secure search takes you directly to the site you want while the Google search phones home reporting what link you clicked on.
      In Firefox for example you can use right click on a link and select Inspect Element to see where it’ll take you.

      1. PJ said on January 29, 2015 at 8:09 pm
        Reply

        Although F-Secure Search claims that it is powered by Google, the former’s result output seems to be sorely lacking.

        For instance, when searching the exact same term, Google gives 93 results, but F-Secure Search gives 0 results.

      2. Thanks said on January 30, 2015 at 1:00 am
        Reply

        Thanks

    9. chesscanoe said on January 29, 2015 at 2:56 pm
      Reply

      Blur may not be a scam, but I see red flags anyway and will not try it.

    10. Leandro said on January 29, 2015 at 3:30 pm
      Reply

      One more NSA Company…
      Nah thanks.
      DuckDuck is doing good for me.

    11. Ray said on January 29, 2015 at 6:04 pm
      Reply

      Abine bought the rights to GoogleSharing, a now-defunct addon that added a proxy to Google searches.

      Perhaps Abine merged GoogleSharing’s code into Blur?

    12. Jeff said on January 29, 2015 at 6:13 pm
      Reply

      I have to say I really value many of the articles and features you highlight on this site. Blur is one I think you may have wrong. I’m in I.T. and was using it for many years not only on my own machine but on local workstations as well. During the time it was under Abine and called DoNotTrackMe (I’m guessing before Blur purchased Abine), it was wonderful! Easy to setup, four or five options to modify and that was that.

      Now, since its become Blur, its become way more intrusive, requires a login and password, has other unwanted features like email masking and continues to have irritating pop-ups even after editing the settings. I registered with a throwaway account and continue to use it but will only do so until something better comes along.

      They have many, many complaints on the Mozilla addon page I agree with quite a few of them. You’ll see a large spike in these complaints when Blur took the addon over. I think some from the company login in give the ratings a boost with one sentence praises and five star ratings periodically when too many complaints lurk near the the top of the list. Read the negatives, try Blur, see for yourself. Its nothing like how it was and I bet this is just a stepping stone before it becomes completely fee based. On this point I may be wrong but that seems to be the trend of good working utilities these days.

      See:
      https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/donottrackplus/reviews/#review-edit-form

    13. Nameless said on January 29, 2015 at 8:23 pm
      Reply

      What about Tor browser (bundle)? Isn’t that enough?

    14. PJ said on January 29, 2015 at 8:25 pm
      Reply

      Personally, I find it strange that a service claiming to promote user privacy would require users to register beforehand.

      Like the Blur add-on, the free ZenMate Security & Privacy VPN add-on also requires users to submit & confirm a valid email address in order to activate the VPN.

      Interestingly though, I don’t seem to encounter as many protests against registering with ZenMate …

    15. Peter (NL) said on January 29, 2015 at 8:44 pm
      Reply

      Two venture capitalists are the sponsors of this company Blur …. so then you know it …. money, money, money.
      I’d rather prefer to use Googles search engine for the best results.

    16. pd said on January 31, 2015 at 6:49 pm
      Reply

      agree creating an account with a third party to search privately is ludicrous

      DuckDuckGo regurgitates Bing results which makes it quite inferior for results quality. I still try to use it every other search but it’s just not that good.

    17. tom san said on February 24, 2015 at 6:34 am
      Reply

      i dont trust abine and never

    18. lowbar77 said on January 15, 2016 at 11:51 pm
      Reply

      Why is everyone so adverse to paying for something? If you don’t pay, YOU become the product. At least when you pay, there is a reasonable expectation that you are the customer and they have to answer to you. I would like to hear what people think about their security, encryption, and so on, not whether they have a free or pay product.

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