Google search goes dark to escape Great Firewall of China, NSA surveillance
In an attempt to protect Google users from Chinese authorities that have been known to trace and block search terms, from the National Security Agency that has snooped on individuals, and from other governments that tend to be nosy with what people are doing over the Web, the search engine company has worn an "invisibility cloak" ala Harry Potter.
Not that Google is scared to be seen by anyone but the company has started encrypting searches in China to counter its Great Firewall that the government uses to block search terms as "Dalai Lama" or "Tiananmen Square." With the encryption active, the searches might be intercepted but the data will be seen as undecipherable bits that will not lead the government to individuals who attempt to look for sensitive information.
Following the revelations of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden about massive spying activities of the government, technology companies has called on governments to respect privacy of individuals, be more transparent with their data collection activities, and have certain checks and balances to safeguard Internet users from possible abuses.
In China, Google's encryption technology might not benefit a lot of people since it only has a five percent market share. Most citizens make use of a local search engine known as Baidu and most likely the news about the encryption of Google will not reach the masses. Those who are tech-savvy enough basically do not need Google's help as they know a way around their country's Internet Firewall.
Most likely, the Chinese government will totally block searches made on Google.
Google and other Silicon Valley firms have also invested in better encryption technologies to avoid any possible entry of snooping governments, hackers, or organizations to their servers.
"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. This builds on our work over the past few years to increase the number of our services that are encrypted by default and encourage the industry to adopt stronger security standards," Google spokesperson Niki Christoff told The Washington Post.
During the recent South by Southwest Interactive festival, Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt disclosed that the company has completed setting up protection of its data. He told the audience in Austin that tougher encryption has been implemented to make sure that governments, including that of the United States, will not be able to intrude.
Technology companies, especially those hit during the height of the Prism data siphoning controversy, constantly call on governments to respect their businesses and users. Yahoo, for example, lambasted the British intelligence that committed privacy violations when it tapped into video chats of Yahoo users. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg even called President Barack Obama to call for reforms possibly after learning about reports that the NSA allegedly had ipsi-Facebook websites that were used to access user information.