Probably for the first time, I am very unhappy with Google. Even when they had plugged in My Search History, I was pondering why Google would go in for a service that makes this little privacy intrusion. It’s accepted that My Search History was a boon for people to come back and look at their search phrases, even after a year but then isn’t it like giving Google your email address and all what you search using Google.
Now with their latest offering of Google Web Accelerator, I am at an uncomfortable state even more. GWA is a plug-in that gets attached to your browser and whenever you hit a web URL, the page is either fetched from Google’s web server through pre-fetching mechanisms or the Google’s web servers nominated just for this purpose will get the page loaded from the respective website’s servers through differential or parallel loads. There is more to it than just this.
Google says that it gets the same information as what my ISP gets. Agreed. Why am I getting hassled here? Two Reasons.
One – My ISP is Comcast and Comcast knows what I am browsing. But there are umpteen ISPs around and I can switch to anyone of them any time. Google is ubiquitous and unique. Imagine just 25% of browsing population in the US installing GWA and using it regularly. If only this 25% of them browse 100,000 sites a day, the traffic to those sites gets routed through Google web servers. So those 100,000 web servers would get to know that most of their traffic came through Google Web Server and not the actual IP address or geography of the browsing source. Last night, when I installed GWA and at clicked on this blog URL for numerous times, the traffic page was showing that the hits came from Google Inc, United States and not from my IP address. Not only GWA acts as a free anonymizer[proxy] to the web but also grabs away the nominal information a site owner should know about his audience.
Two – Google as of yesterday knew my email address, my personal search history and my home address [if subscribed to Google AdSense]. Until now, if only I searched something with Google, I sent some information to Google. Now with Google Web Accelerator, I don’t need to search anything to give Google some pie. Whatever I browse/see/read/visit goes through Google and it knows all that. You might think what’s wrong with that. Being a Google fan/admirer/patron I feel Google is run by honest dudes who are just trying to enhance the web. But then, just too much of everything isn’t good. Having been involved with Data Warehousing technologies, I perfectly understand the power of analytics and business intelligence. With so much of browsing data and web page calls sent through Google, its as simple as building an OLAP cube to get the taste of web. Give a me that RDBMS/Flat File/XML that contains the URL calls and IP numbers, I can get you a scorecard for the web within minutes. With Google being a Data Mining company, this should be just a click away. They will eventually know what goes on in the web. Who sees what? And if only that data is used for enhancing user experience, I am the most happiest of all to salute Google. Will Google assure of that?
As I had supported the Autolink tool of Google, I said that Autolink is a service that’s available for people who download the Google toolbar and also enable the option. The so-called privacy intrusion happens only then. But even if 10% of broadband users subscribe to GWA, I think it’s just much info in the hands of Google. Autolink wasn’t a slippery slope like GWA. I’m just thinking if people were booing at the Autolink feature, imagine what they would do to GWA. Google is risking its brand loyalty and probably that’s the best way to run a successful company. However, appreciate the guts to take the risk.