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Theme fund: NGI0 Discovery
Start: 2019-04
End: 2019-04
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Verticals + Search


A privacy-respecting, hackable metasearch engine

Searx (/sɜːrks/) is a free metasearch engine, available under the GNU Affero General Public License version 3, with the aim of protecting the privacy of its users. Across all categories, Searx can fetch and combine search results from more than 80 different engines. This includes major commercial search engines like Bing, Google, Qwant, DuckDuckGo and Reddit, as well as site-specific searches such as Wikipedia and Searx is a self hosted web application, meaning that every user can run it for themselves and others - and add or remove any features they want. Meanwhile, numerous publicly accessible instances are hosted by volunteer organizations and individuals alike. The project will consolidate the many suggestions and feature requests from users and operators into the first full-blown release (1.0) for Searx, as well as spend the necessary engineering effort in making the technology ready for even wider deployment.

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 more 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 can make Searx an even more customizable transparent search alternative by working towards its first 1.0 release while addressing user suggestions and feature requests. There will also be effort put into preparing Searx for wider deployment to show users they have more options and agency when searching for what they need online.

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.