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Today, software company Disconnect is launching Disconnect Search, a downloadable extension for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox that lets you search Google, Bing and Yahoo (and other search engines) completely privately.

By design, it’s intended to refute ad tracking during user’s browsing sessions. This allows you to browse as you please without worry of  sneaky ad companies peering over your shoulder, and without companies like Google, Microsoft or Yahoo logging searches to your particular IP address or account.

“Your searches are anything but private,” Disconnect co-founder and former consumer rights attorney Casey Oppenheim noted in a statement to TechCrunch.

“Search engines, and even websites and Internet service providers, can save your searches and connect them to your real name through your user accounts.”

Patrick Jackson, former NSA-engineer who is now CTO of Disconnect also mentioned that your searches currently are logged even if you’re logged out of your Google, Microsoft or Yahoo account (or any search site for that matter).

“Even if you never log in to an account, search engines and many websites typically save your searches and connect them to an IP address, which can allow companies to uniquely identify your computer.”

Disconnect Search was developed with these issues and their effect on user rights in mind, and has four unique design points that are its support beams:

  • Searches are routed through Disconnect’s servers, “which makes the queries look like they’re coming from Disconnect instead of a specific user’s computer,” the company says.
  • As a result, search engines are prevented (blocked) from passing keywords to the sites that are visited from search results pages.
  • All queries are encrypted, which prevents ISPs from viewing them.
  • Disconnect doesn’t log any keywords, personal information, or IP addresses after it routes your query to its own servers.

As you might expect, as private as Disconnect Search may be, your searches aren’t protected on certain higher levels: something like a government acquisition of data, in which companies are forced to comply upon request.

However, Disconnect Search is still a wonderful tool for the subset of users that really care for their online privacy, as touchy and tricky a topic it may be these days. You can get it right here if you’re using Chrome or Firefox.

And if you’re more comfortable just using the “private browsing” functionality within your favorite browser and opt-out of third party plugins, you can learn to do so very simply here.

[Source: TechCrunch]

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