Google rival Neeva has launched in the UK, but its claims to be tracking free have been refuted by critics labelling the pledge as “marketing propaganda.”

Colin Hayhurst, CEO of privacy based UK search engine Mojeek, tells Verdict that Neeva’s own privacy policy reveals that it is not being upfront with users.

“[It’s] pure marketing propaganda,” Hayhurst claims. “Neeva uses all sorts of ways to track as we show and they admit, but not in their marketing that they may collect IP addresses should be enough to convince you.

“It’s there in their privacy policy also with more admissions like how they may share your personal information. Why would any privacy conscious person trust them?”

Neeva refutes these accusations, labelling them as inaccurate.

“Neeva runs a very large search stack with hundreds of millions of pages crawled every day, billions of pages in its index and serving at scale,” a Neeva spokesperson tells Verdict.

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“Having said that, we do use Bing as a backup when we don’t have enough data, and are clear about this, We do not pass any user identifiable identifiers to Bing: no IP address or location or browser headers get passed to Bing.”

The search engine says it does not associate users’ IP addresses or search histories, but notes that users can turn this on to improve their search results and that if users volunteer Google contacts with Neeva, they become searchable for that user.

Ex-Google ad boss, Sridhar Ramaswamy, launched Neeva to rival Google with Ex YouTube Monetization VP Vivek Raghunathan.

Neeva has over 600,000 users in the US. So, far it has raised over $80m from investors.

Virtual private networks (VPN) and password manager access will be offered in a future paid-for subscription service, rumoured to cost £5.

“Users should be in control of their search and web experience rather than accepting one company deciding the information they see,” Ramaswamy said in a statement.

“It’s time for the whole sector to wake up and recognise the fragile trade-off between privacy and personalisation has to end,” Angel Maldonando, CEO of Empathy, tells Verdict.

The search engines follow the EU inching closer to the finish line for its new Digital Services Act. This would led to tougher privacy controls, to force search engines to do more to tackle harmful content like child exploitation, hate speech and fake news.

GlobalData is the parent company of Verdict and its sister publications.