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YaCy search engine is a peer-to-peer Google rival

A new peer-to-peer search engine called YaCy is going up against Google.

A new peer-to-peer search engine called YaCy that aims to take on Google has gone live.

YaCy is unusual, because it uses a peer-to-peer system to distribute the search engine's search index among its users.

To use it you'll need to download some software, but the idea is that because the index isn't centralised, YaCy search results will be harder to censor than if they were running through just one operator's servers (like Google for instance).

YaCy has about 1.4 billion documents indexed so far. That sounds like a lot, but Google is estimated to have over 48 billion web pages in its own index. 

YaCy is run by the Free Software Foundation Europe, and is pronounced "Ya See". Queries are encrypted, so your privacy should be protected. Privacy is a concern for project leader Michael Christen, who said, "we cannot rely on a few large companies, and compromise our privacy in the process."

Last year Google made changes to its search service to stop piracy-related terms showing up in autocomplete.

While those savvy enough to install a bit of software and get their heads around the peer-to-peer mechanics might value the guarantee that nobody is censoring search results, we'd be surprised if YaCy was able to put a dent in Google.

Google is so deeply ingrained in our psyche now that it's many people's home page, and the default search tool on loads of tech. Still, if Google started not returning the search results people were after, perhaps the winds could change.

A version of YaCy you can try out now is available, though at the time of writing it wasn't working, probably because sites like us are pointing too much traffic at the page. Sorry.

Does YaCy stand a chance? What are the advantages of a peer-to-peer search engine? Let us know in the comments, or on our Facebook wall