Send in your ideas. Deadline June 1, 2024
Source code :
Theme fund: NGI0 Discovery
Start: 2019-04
End: 2022-09
More projects like this
Verticals + Search
Data and AI

Private Searx

Add private resources to the open source Searx metasearch engine

Searx is a popular meta-search engine letting people query third party services to retrieve results without giving away personal data. However, there are other sources of information stored privately, either on the computers of users themselves or on other machines in the network that are not publically accessible. To share it with others, one could upload the data to a third party hosting service. However, there are many cases in which it is unacceptable to do so, because of privacy reasons (including GPPR) or in case of sensitive or classified information. This issue can be avoided by storing and indexing data on a local server. By adding offline and private engines to searx, users can search not only on the internet, but on their local network from the same user interface. Data can be conveniently available to anyone without giving it away to untrusted services. The new offline engines would let users search in local file system, open source indexers and data bases all from the UI of searx.

Why does this actually matter to end users?

Search and discovery is one of the most important and essential use cases of the internet. When you are in school and need to give a presentation, when you are looking for a job, trying to promote your business or finding relevant commercial or public services you need, most of the time you will turn to the internet and more importantly the search bar in your browser to find answers. Searching information and making sure your name, company or idea can be discovered is crucial for users, but they actually have little control over this. Search engines set the terms for what results you see, how your website can be discovered and what information is logged about your searches. What terms are set remains obscure for users and they can only follow the rules laid out for them, instead of deciding on their own what, where and how to find the information they are looking for.

More transparent, customizable and privacy-friendly search puts the user in the driver seat and can provide them with meaningful results. Searx does this by aggregating results from more than 70 search services while avoiding any user tracking or profiling. With every search users can decide what engines they want to use and which they don't, what search language must be used and other options that are saved on the device and can therefore not be tracked. Users are also free to run their own instance of Searx, giving them complete control over the source code that makes that version of Searx tick (and alter it however they like) and ensure additional privacy protection.

This project gives Searx users even more control over what their own rules for search and discovery, in particular discoverability of sensitive or personal information. Right now Searx only searches on the internet and does not look for information on for example the computer you use. Instead of users having to upload information to makie it findable (and giving away control over where the data will end up and who gets to see and use it), Private Searx allows users to find results both online and offline on their local computer or network from the same search bar.

Logo NLnet: abstract logo of four people seen from above Logo NGI Zero: letterlogo shaped like a tag

This project was funded through the NGI0 Discovery Fund, a fund established by NLnet with financial support from the European Commission's Next Generation Internet programme, under the aegis of DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology under grant agreement No 825322.