New “Cuil” Search Engines Decides User Logs Aren’t Necessary

Some former Googlers have launched a rival search engine named for the Gaelic word for knolwedge, Cuil.

Cuil (pronounced like “cool”), which claims to have an index three times the size as Google and ten times as Microsoft, aims to provide a difference kind of search experience than its friends in Mountain View:

Rather than rely on superficial popularity metrics, Cuil searches for and ranks pages based on their content and relevance. When we find a page with your keywords, we stay on that page and analyze the rest of its content, its concepts, their inter-relationships and the page’s coherency.

Further, Cuil has taken a quite difference stance regarding user privacy than Google:

We believe that analyzing the Web rather than our users is a more useful approach, so we don’t collect data about you and your habits, lest we are tempted to peek. With Cuil, your search history is always private.

In short, Cuil doesn’t retain any server logs of user search activities. From its privacy policy:

Privacy is a hot topic these days, and we want you to feel totally comfortable using our service, so our privacy policy is very simple: when you search with Cuil, we do not collect any personally identifiable information, period. We have no idea who sends queries: not by name, not by IP address, and not by cookies (more on this later). Your search history is your business, not ours.

More precisely:

We do not keep logs of our users’ search activity.

Cookies are small files on your computer that websites create to store user preferences, such as language settings. Each time you visit a Cuil page, your computer’s cookies automatically provide Cuil with your preferences. You can change or delete your cookies anytime via your Web browser options.

We do not record the information in your cookies on our servers; your browser sends your preferences to us with each search request. This way, we do not store any personal information about you on our servers.

(Other search engines, such as Ixquick, make similar claims. In fact, Ixquick recently was awarded the first European Privacy Seal for its privacy-protecting efforts.)

What I find most interesting about Cuil’s privacy policy is that it contradicts what Google has been stating regarding the necessity of retaining user logs: that they’re necessary to improve their services, fight spam and abuse, and comply with legal obligations. I, of course, have been critical of this reasoning on various occasions, but it will be interesting to see if the mainstream press will bite on this, now that Cuil is getting some attention

FWIW, Cuil’s launch has been less-than-stellar. They have been plagued with down servers, and their results are being criticized for lack of coherency or relevancy. See here, here, and here, for example.


  1. “What I find most interesting about Cuil’s privacy policy is that it contradicts what Google has been stating regarding the necessity of retaining user logs”

    Contradicts how? If people are as satisfied with Cuil’s searchs results as much as Google than yes (I’ve read negative reviews thus far). Otherwise that statement has little meat (tofu?) to it.

    It’s possible to create a search engine without all that data, the question is can you create one as good as an engine that records data? For the sake of innovation, I’d like to see Cuil prove that it’s possible.


  2. I said “contradict,” not “falsify”. Cuil’s position contradicts Google’s as the latter states it needs user data to perform its core functions, while the former claims it is not necessary.

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