Small companies have started search engines that offer better privacy.
You have probably never heard of the Gigablast search engine. Computer programmer Matt Wells started development on Gigablast in 2000 after leaving pioneering search company - Infoseek.
According to the Gigablast about page, "Matt Wells is currently the sole maintainer and programmer of Gigablast." This is proof that a small business can compete with Google and Bing. Last week Gigablast was bought by Yippy, another small search engine company.
Wells' best known competitor in private search is DuckDuckGo. Last year The Washington Post reported that DuckDuckGo's founder "decided to use publicly available search results from Yahoo — which is now fueled by Bing — for the bulk of his searches and use his programming talents to curate the top few links."
For this reason Bing, operated by Microsoft, knows about some of the searches conducted at DuckDuckGo.
Gigablast's privacy page says:
Some search engines on the internet purport to protect your privacy, and they do a decent job, but since they are not actually search engines, they relay your queries to a major 3rd party search engine. But since Gigablast is the ONLY search engine in the United States that only serves results from it's own index and does not have PRISM installed, you know we are not sending your queries off to a major search engine (which is tapped by the NSA) to get the results.
If you have to perform risky searches, then you may want to consider Gigablast.
An added bonus of using Gigablast is that you can see how web pages are "scored" - this scoring process determines the ranking of pages in the search engine results.