The company behind the popular Brave browser is getting ready to enter the search engine market. To that end, it has recently acquired Tailcat – the open search engine developed by the team formerly responsible for the privacy search and browser products at Cliqz, a holding of Hubert Burda Media. Tailcat will become the foundation of Brave Search, which together with the Brave browser will “constitute the industry’s first independent, privacy-preserving alternative to Google Chrome and Google Search.”
Fighting the Big Tech…
Under the hood, nearly all of today’s search engines are either built by, or rely on, results from Big Tech companies. In contrast, the Tailcat search engine is built on top of a completely independent index, capable of delivering good search results without compromising anyone’s privacy. Tailcat does not collect IP addresses or use personally identifiable information to “improve search results.”
Once launched, Brave Search will join the family of privacy-preserving Brave products as consumers are increasingly demanding user-first alternatives to Big Tech. The Brave browser saw unprecedented growth in 2021, reaching over 25 million monthly active users. This mirrored the impressive migration to Signal, the privacy messaging platform, after WhatsApp announced a change to their privacy policies requiring data-sharing with Facebook.
Privacy is becoming mainstream and Brave Search wants to ride that trend. According to Brave, the solution is being developed according to several principles:
- Brave Search is private: it does not track or profile users.
- Brave Search is user-first: as opposed to the advertising and data industries.
- Brave Search offers choice: there will be an ad-free paid option as well as standard ad-supported search.
- Brave Search is independent: the hope is to rely on anonymized contributions from the community to improve and refine Brave Search.
- Brave Search is transparent: the company promises not to use secret methods or algorithms to bias results.
- Brave Search is seamless: Brave will offer best-in-class integration between the browser and search without compromising privacy.
- Brave Search is open: Brave Search will be open to powering other search engines.
With Brave Search, users can choose a default search engine that works seamlessly with the Brave browser to provide a complete privacy-respecting experience. Brave will also explore blockchain-based options and new developments, including for e-commerce uses.
On the record
“Brave has grown significantly over the past year, from 11 million monthly active users to over 25 million. We expect to see even greater demand for Brave in 2021 as more and more users demand real privacy solutions to escape Big Tech’s invasive practices,” said Brendan Eich, CEO and co-founder of Brave Software. “Brave’s mission is to put the user first, and integrating privacy-preserving search into our platform is a necessary step to ensure that user privacy is not plundered to fuel the surveillance economy.”
“We are very happy that our technology is being used at Brave and that, as a result, a genuine, privacy-friendly alternative to Google is being created in the core web functions of browsing and searching,” added Paul-Bernhard Kallen, CEO of Hubert Burda Media. “As a Brave stakeholder we will continue to be involved in this exciting project.”
“The only way to counter Big Tech with its bad habit of collecting personal data is to develop a robust, independent, and privacy-preserving search engine that delivers the quality users have come to expect. People should not be forced to choose between privacy and quality,” said Dr. Josep M. Pujol, head of the Tailcat project. “The team is excited to be working on the only real private search/browser alternative to Big Tech available on the market.”
Like many other companies, Brave also had its share of controversy. The company was found to be redirecting URLs from cryptocurrency companies to affiliate links that Brave profits from. That wasn’t nice and some users complained publicly about it.
Brave co-founder and CEO Brendan Eich acknowledged the mistake and has promptly fixed the problem.
Brave serve ads, as well
Brave already offers a privacy-preserving ad platform with Brave Ads, which has delivered nearly 3,000 private ad campaigns in 200 countries with major advertisers such as Verizon, The Home Depot, The New York Times, Progressive Insurance, Chipotle, PayPal, Amazon, Harry’s Razors, CBS, and KIND Snacks. Brave recently launched a privacy-preserving news reader, Brave Today and is testing Brave Together, a privacy-preserving video-conferencing service.
Users interested in testing Brave Search can sign up via the waitlist.