Encryption

Google Challenges NSA, China With Internet Search Encryption Scheme

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Google Inc. \ Wikimedia

In an attempt to enhance user privacy, Google is now encrypting global Internet searches. National Security Agency (NSA) revelations have spurred a company-wide effort to secure user data and to thwart intelligence agency snoops.

A Google spokesperson told The Washington Post:

The revelations of this past summer underscored our need to strengthen our networks. Among the many improvements we've made in recent months is to encrypt Google Search by default around the world.

The encryption turns search terms into a jumbled up sequence of characters, making them unreadable. This makes it difficult for interlopers to target users who search for certain material, and hobbles the state's ability to track search history.

The tech giant has already started to roll out its Web search encryption scheme in China, targeting the nation's censorship project, also known as the Great Firewall. According to Time, "The move represents a shot at Beijing in Google's standoff with Chinese authorities over unmet demands that the company send Chinese users to government-approved sites."

Google searches constitute a small portion of Chinese searches, the bulk of which are made through China-based service Baidu. But Percy Alpha, co-founder of GreatFire.org, a non-profit that monitors Chinese censorship, told the Post, "It will be a huge headache for Chinese censorship authorities. We hope other companies will follow Google to make encryption by default."

Because of encryption, Google chair Eric Schmidt expects worldwide state censorship to fizzle out. He said in a lecture at John Hopkins University late last year, "I believe there's a real chance that we can eliminate censorship and the possibility of censorship in a decade."

Google's encryption efforts got more attention after Edward Snowden's leaks revealed the NSA had been hacking links to Google and Yahoo data centers, circumventing legal procedures. Since then, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo all moved to encrypt these links.

It is unclear whether politicians will make meaningful reforms to the sprawling surveillance state programs. Legislative efforts have been slow. But corporations that rake in data are beholden to their consumers, and are rushing to invest in encryption. Google's attempt doesn't give perfect privacy, but it's an important safeguard, and a step towards thwarting the ease of government data harvesting. 

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      1. The squirrels turned that one into a link all on their own 😉

        1. The squirrels? Or other, more interested parties?

  1. Google is concerned about privacy LOL

    1. Google just snoops so that it can target you for a sales pitch. For example, it targets advertising to me. I like the fact that I get ads for chloroform, shovels, garbage bags, Hillary Clinton masks, and jumbo sex toys all in one place.

  2. Can’t China just block Google? There will be some gnashing of teeth in the short term, but I think it would go away.

    1. I’ll have you know, “Strapon”, that I am the REAL DEAL and do not need to attach a foolish rubber gadget to myself.

  3. The encryption turns search terms into a jumbled up sequence of characters

    So when I use Google to search for ‘how can I donate money to orphans’ the encryption may turn it into a random sequence of characters like ‘how can I find gay asian goat porn’? That’s how that keeps showing up in my browser history!

    But seriously, since Google operates the encryption system, doesn’t the security of the system depend on Google operating it securely? Do we trust that Google isn’t keeping tabs on us and stops the NSA from monitoring the interwebs only insofar as Google refuses to help them? Banks may have secure vaults, but if the bank manager himself is a crook….

    1. But seriously, since Google operates the encryption system, doesn’t the security of the system depend on Google operating it securely?

      yes, but what else are you going to do?

      And google does ‘keep tabs’ on you, that’s why you get those gay spa ads in your browser.

  4. The encryption turns search terms into a jumbled up sequence of characters, making them unreadable

    So the NSAs job here is to identify the end-points in the system where those are decrypted and attack those.

    Hopefully Google will host a lot of servers in foreign countries where the NSA can just offer billions in ‘law enforcement grants’ under the rubric of ‘3rd world development’ to get full access to those servers.

  5. Because of encryption, Google chair Eric Schmidt expects worldwide state censorship to fizzle out.

    Yes, until the states simply make it a law that Google has to provide assistance and put in place tools to make access easier for ‘law enforcement purposes’. Then Google will cave like the craven bastards they are – can’t afford to lose any of that sweet, sweet, advertising revenue.

  6. The classified program named “PRISM” began in 2007 and has signed on Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple. The recent NSA revelations have laid it all out: The NSA is watching us online. Its overreaching surveillance is creating a climate of fear, chills free speech, and violates our basic human rights ? and it operates without any meaningful oversight
    So I don’t believe for one second that Google all of a sudden is trying to protect anyone. Use duckduckgo.com as your search engine as it does not track nor store your searches.
    Protecting your 4th Amendment Rights…
    http://www.americansrighttoprivacy.com

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