Brave is taking on Google with its own 'private' search engine

The Brave web browser logo displayed on the screen of a MacBook.
(Image credit: 24K-Production/Shutterstock)

Brave, the privacy-oriented web browser, is developing its own privacy-oriented search engine. 

Or rather, it's resurrecting the Tailcat search engine, originally developed for the failed European browser project Cliqz. Brave founder and CEO Brendan Eich says the search engine will be more private than DuckDuckGo.

"Brave Search is built from scratch and has an independently built search index, whereas DDG relies on Bing as the search engine under its hood," Eich told Tom's Guide. "Brave Search is the first multi-platform, private, browser/search alternative to the Big Tech platforms."

You can't quite yet use Brave Search, as it's now being called. But you can join the waiting list to be among the beta testers by signing up.  

"We are currently working on integration, and aim to launch a test version in the next few weeks," Eich told us. "After feedback from early testers, we will release Brave Search for general availability by the summer if not late spring."

Brave promises no tracking or profiling

Brave promises in its announcement of the Tailcat acquisition that its search engine will "not track or profile users," "collect IP addresses" or "use personally identifiable information to improve search results." 

It will "rely on anonymized contributions from the community" as a substitute for the automated web crawlers that Google and Bing use. But like Brave itself, Brave Search will show its own ads — unless you pay it not to.

"We will provide options for ad-free paid search and ad-supported search," says the Brave announcement. "We are working on bringing private ads to search, as we've done for Brave user ads."

Not clear how much data advertisers will get

We asked what Brave would say to advertisers who wanted to know more about the users who viewed their ads. Such sharing of personal and behavioral data is what made Facebook and Google rich, because the more data you provide, the more you can charge advertisers.

Eich, who earlier in his career developed the JavaScript coding language and co-founded Mozilla, implied but didn't quite say outright that Brave wouldn't go down that road.

"Our ad buyers already appreciate phenomenal click-through rates and competitive CPMs for Brave Ads and Sponsored Images, and we aim to keep similar high engagement with future ad offerings," he told us. "We're currently thinking through different search experiences to offer our users and advertising partners."

Changing the defaults

Brave, which is based on Chromium and is pretty much mutually compatible with Chrome, was officially launched in 2019 after more than three years in development. Brave says it now has 25 million users. 

We can attest that Brave is fast and light, partially because it blocks most ads by default. You can also access the Tor privacy network directly from Brave, making it by far the easiest way to use Tor.

As with most browsers, you can choose among several options to select Brave's search engine, although it sticks with Google unless you change the settings. The other options are Bing, DuckDuckGo and the European search engines Ecosia, Qwant and Startpage.

Eich told TechCrunch that, "when ready, we hope to make Brave Search the default engine in Brave."

Paul Wagenseil

Paul Wagenseil is a senior editor at Tom's Guide focused on security and privacy. He has also been a dishwasher, fry cook, long-haul driver, code monkey and video editor. He's been rooting around in the information-security space for more than 15 years at, SecurityNewsDaily, TechNewsDaily and Tom's Guide, has presented talks at the ShmooCon, DerbyCon and BSides Las Vegas hacker conferences, shown up in random TV news spots and even moderated a panel discussion at the CEDIA home-technology conference. You can follow his rants on Twitter at @snd_wagenseil.

    Brave appealed to me so I agave it a shot. early in, it had me make an jpholf afount and instantly I was told they retractefr my account eithout any rerason. i sk what the issue is, they gie me s run srounf hskf s erk lstre thrn vsll it wuits. the appstore hsd more teviews of stolen funds than even neutrak reviews.