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Google starts rolling out encrypted search functionality

It seems like Google is starting to take the whole concept of user-privacy even more seriously than before, and it plans to do so by introducing encrypted search capabilities to its search engine, a feature which is conveniently absent in the offerings by most competitors. The caveat? It’s still in beta status, with no definite release date announced.

Read on to find out more.

Have you ever spent sleepless nights wondering if people might be snooping into your search queries sent by Google? If so, this latest news from Google might be just the thing you need to set your mind at ease, because the search giant is now in the process of rolling out an encrypted search feature for public use.

Available at https://www.google.com, what Google has done is to implement an SSL encryption layer over the connection between your browser and Google’s servers. This means that anything that is sent to and from Google’s servers to your browser can only be viewed by you, and no one (yes, not even Google) can snoop in on that connection path and discover that you have been busy searching for a suitable cure for your bed-wetting problems or other potentially embarrassing queries.

And while it may be seen as a huge step forward in the quest for better net privacy, Google insists that it still has a role to maintain search databases and queries in order to provide better services for its customers, so it is highly possible that a good portion of your querying habits will still manage to find their way onto Google’s servers. In fact, the Google team had posted in its blog entry that enabling SSL encrypted search only blocks uninvited eyeballs from accessing your search queries, and that it does not affect the data sent over to Google in any way.

In addition, the Google team had also pointed out that the SSL-encrypted search is only available for its core search service, which means that you may not be able to return any results for non-SSL enabled services like Google Maps or Images. Furthermore, the blog post reminds that users may suffer a performance penalty simply because of the extra time needed to set up the SSL connection, thus potentially resulting in slower return results.

Still, a little added privacy is better than no privacy at all, and we feel that Google is heading in the right direction with the introduction of its encrypted search. At least, we now no longer have to worry about overzealous supervisors attempting to sieve through packet data of us Google-ing for information on ‘how to prevent bosses from snooping in on packet data’.

Source: Google Blog via Ars Technica

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