ixquick.gifGoogle has been my search engine of choice for several years, but recent developments have made me change my alliance to a new search engine. Ixquick is the only search engine I know of that doesn't keep records on what you search for....and that should be important to everyone.

Perhaps you read about it. Recently, 20 million of AOL’s customers Web search queries appeared on the Web. These included the user’s ID, the query they typed into the search engine, and other information.

Newsmakers picked up on the story because of some of the dramatic Web searches performed. For instance, AOL user 2708 searched for “I hate my ex boyfriend,” “how to humiliate someone,” “free anyry stuff to send to an ex lover,” and “makehimpay.net”. User 17556639 looked for even more vicious information with searches on “how to kill a wife”, “photo of dead people,” “decapitated photos,” “wife killer,” and “steak and cheese.” (Guess they got hungry.)

After the sensationalism died down, many people realized that the true story was that search engines are keeping a collection of information that can lead to a personal dossier of an individual. AOL’s information included user numbers that were identified by cookies, but users can also be identified by Internet addresses, bringing them closer to our true identities.

All of the big search engines keep such information. Recently Google, AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo were subpoenaed to turn over information of this type to the Justice Department. Of the big four, only Google refused to release the information.

In response to this story, one search engine, Ixquick, immediately issued a press release stating that they are taking steps to provide privacy protection for their users. Ixquick stated that after a search, they will immediately and permanently delete all personal search details.

I was impressed by a company who was thought that protecting our privacy was more important than gleaning information from our searches and selling data for marketing purposes.I had never heard of Ixquick, but I immediately surfed over to http://www.ixquick.com/. I was impressed with what I found.

Ixquick, which is owned by a Dutch company, is a metasearch engine. That means that it searches several databases to get its search results. Ixquick uses Yahoo/Alta vista, Gigablast, Ask Jeeves/Teoma, Open Directory and 7 other search engines. It is available in 18 languages.

Ixquick marks the search results with stars, one star for every search engine that chooses that particular Web site as one of the ten best results for your search. This effectively gives you the relevancy of the search results. Also, the Ixquick interface is clean and easy to use. It allows you to quickly choose if you want your search to find only one of the words of your search phrase, all of the words, or the exact phrase. There is also a place where you can easily enter words that you may want to eliminate from your search. You don’t need to fool around with pluses, minuses, or quotation marks as you do with some popular search engines.

I was extremely impressed with the Ixquick's International Phone Directory.

Just type in a name and city or state and you can actually find people. Ixquick's Reverse Directory can tell you who’s calling when you enter a telephone number. With Bigfoot and most other people directories now charging for people searches, this is an extremely useful free search tool.

After using Ixquick for a few weeks, I can honestly say that I have been very happy with the results. Using it in conjunction with Google gives you a wonderfully wide selection of search results. If, however, you want to really keep your searches private, then you will want to use Ixquick exclusively. After the recent AOL debaukle, I feel that Ixquick is providing a great service not only as a search engine, but also as a leader on privacy issues.