Open-source P2P search engine YaCy takes on Google

A revolutionary peer-to-peer (P2P) search engine is set to challenge Google's dominance and prevent governments and other organisations from censoring the results of users' queries.

YaCy (pronounced "ya see") invites ordinary internet users to download P2P software that enables them to collectively index the web, with the processing shared out equally between users.

Search results provided by YaCy are not stored on a centralised server, making it nigh on impossible for them to be censored by governments and others.

The non-commercial search engine was launched to the public on 28th November, and its participants currently number just 600 - but the project has already catalogued 1.4 billion documents on the web.

That's a far cry from Google's 48 billion web pages - but the team behind YaCy claim that if one in every 1,000 internet users can be persuaded to lend a hand, the project with match the search giant's capacity.

YaCy is backed by open-source advocates the Free Software Foundation Europe, and in keeping with its ethos, the code behind YaCy is freely available online.

Karsten Gerloff, president of theFSFE, says: "We are moving away from the idea that services need to be centrally controlled. Instead, we are realising how important it is to be independent, and to create infrastructure that doesn't have a single point of failure."

YaCy has some way to go before it catches up with market leader Google, though. The search giant's share of the UK search market currently stands at more than 90 per cent, with the rest shared between Bing, Yahoo and Ask.