Google Is Quietly Making It Harder For The NSA To Monitor Internet Traffic

In the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations, Google is quietly making searches much harder to trace... except for clicks on ads.

Google has changed some of its most important backend functionality—and the changes make it harder for the NSA and other intelligence agencies to monitor Internet traffic. According to Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan, Google is changing the way secure search works. Specifically, Google changed the default search mechanism to SSL for users who aren't signed in (SSL is a safer form of Internet encryption) and introduced several smaller features that make it harder for outside observers to follow traffic activity.

It's worth noting, though, that Google has kept a loophole allowing advertisers to keep a close eye on search traffic. Google "withholds them from being transmitted in the clear across the Internet. Publishers can still see these terms by going into the Google Webmaster Tools area, though they only see the top 2,000 per day and only going back for 90 days." Google has consistently declined to make ad search traffic secure; doing so would make search advertising, a massive revenue generator for the company, much less cost effective.

[Image: Sebastian Bergmann]

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2 Comments

  • dusanmal

    A bit more elaboration on Clay Robinson comment: from released secrets we do not know how NSA got major Internet services SSL keys (and back-doors deal with software and OS using encryption, not institutions). But we know they either stole them somehow or (semi)legally forced some security authority to make them one. Big Internet services, particularly Google are clever so most likely they'd catch "new" certificate (like they did when Government of Iran did the like). Hence, most likely by social engineering and/or actual human spies at Corporate Google they stole Google credentials. Having them and having known intercepts of the most of the Internet traffic - man in the middle attack vs. Google with SSL would be trivial for them and almost impossible to remotely detect. So, no protection vs. NSA. Yes, as Clay sez' - this is a good protection vs. ordinary hacks who without SSL had a field day with Firesheep and the like.

  • Clay Robinson

    This article is very uninformed.  Check back about a week, the NSA built in back-doors to major encryption providers.  SSL isn't stopping the NSA, but it will stop script kiddie hackers.