Post-PRISM, Google Confirms Quietly Moving To Make All Searches Secure, Except For Ad Clicks
Here's some of the info
"In the past month, Google quietly made a change aimed at encrypting all search activity -- except for clicks on ads. Google says this has been done to provide "extra protection" for searchers, and the company may be aiming to block NSA spying activity. Possibly, it's a move to increase ad sales. Or both. Welcome to the confusing world of Google secure search. Two Years Ago: Secure Searching For Logged-In Users
In October 2011, Google began encrypting searches for anyone who was logged into Google. The reason given was privacy. Google said it wanted to block anyone who might potentially be eavesdropping on a string of searches made by an individual and also prevent the actual search terms themselves from being seen by publishers, as some of them might be too "private" to reveal.
This Month: Secure Searching Being Made Default For Everyone
Now, Google has flipped on encryption for people who aren't even signed-in. When asked about this last week, Google confirmed the shift, saying:
We added SSL encryption for our signed-in search users in 2011, as well as searches from the Chrome omnibox earlier this year. We're now working to bring this extra protection to more users who are not signed in.I sent a series of follow-up questions to Google after getting that statement and am still waiting for a response to them, so I'll update as I hear more. Is this worldwide? How soon until it happens for everyone?
A Sudden Change
One key question is "Why so suddenly?," what prompted Google to make such a change out of the blue. And it was sudden.
When searches are encrypted, search terms that are normally passed along to publishers after someone clicks on their links at Google get withheld. In Google Analytics, the actual term is replaced with a "Not Provided" notation.
Over the past two years, the percentage of search terms as "not provided" has increased as Mozilla's Firefox in July 2012, Apple's Safari browser in iOS 6 in September 2012 and Google's own Chrome browser in January 2013 have used encrypted search, even when people aren't signed in at Google.
That's lead to a steady increase but not giant leap in "not provided" activity. But in the past month, the increased encryption on Google's side has produced a dramatic spike:"