Firefox Users to Get Secure Google Search by Default

Mozilla has made a small but important change to the way that its Firefox browser handles search queries directed to Google, making the search provider’s encrypted search service the default option. The modification is in is not in the stable version of Firefox yet, but users who download the daily beta builds can access it now.

Google FirefoxMozilla has made a small but important change to the way that its Firefox browser handles search queries directed to Google, making the search provider’s encrypted search service the default option. The modification is in is not in the stable version of Firefox yet, but users who download the daily beta builds can access it now.

The switch to using HTTPS for search by default is a major steo forward for Mozilla in terms of protecting the privacy of users’ search queries and results. Google has had an option for encrypted search for some time now and the company made secure search the default choice for users who are logged in to their Google accounts last October. However, Google has not made that option the default for its own Chrome browser.

With the change in Firefox, users of Mozilla’s browser now have an extra layer of protection for their search queries, something that is becoming increasingly importance in the age of surveillance, targeted ads and data sales.

“Google’s October 2011 decision to start proactively scrubbing search queries from the referrer header was a great first step, but a small percentage of Google’s search users benefited. Now that Mozilla is switching to HTTPS search, hundreds of millions of Firefox users will have their privacy protected, by default,” privacy and security researcher Chris Soghoian said in a blog post analyzing the switch for Firefox users.

“The only surprising aspect to this otherwise great bit of good news is that the first major browser to use HTTPS search is Firefox and not Chrome. I reasonably assumed that as soon as Google’s pro-privacy engineers and lawyers won the internal battle over those in the company sympathetic to needs of the SEO community, that Google’s flagship browser would have been the first to ship HTTPS by default.”

Google has not said publicly when it plans to enable HTTPS search by default for Chrome users, but with the move by Mozilla, it seems likely that Google will move in this direction soon. 

“We would welcome Firefox giving their users the option to use encrypted search. However, at this time we don’t feel that our encrypted search offers the features and speed that our users expect and so we wouldn’t want it to be the default. We are working towards making encrypted search as fast and complete as unencrypted search, but we’re not there yet,” Google’s Adam Langley said in a comment on the Mozilla change in the company’s Bugzilla system.

Mozilla has not said when the change to HTTPS Google searches will show up in the stable channel of Firefox.

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Discussion

  • ibrahim mohamed omar on

    Yes, I appreciated what so ever reached, so far, and waiting the fast/complete unencrypted search!

  • Anonymous on

    As much as I love FF, I will continue to use ixquick.com and startpage.com as my default search providers (in all browsers) as they go beyond simply using HTTPS for protection.

  • Anonymous on

    "The modification is in is not in the stable version of Firefox yet"

    Well which is it? This was actually in the email. Whooops!?

  • Anonymous on

    Love firefox, it will become better

  • Anonymous on

    This is going to be a security nightmare in the workplace for doing investigations into misconduct. I'm all for users having privacy at home don't get me wrong, but at work the option should be available to disable this for employees so they can't enable it; I know the sneakier ones will find a way around it, but why give them more ways to hide what they are doing? The search queries won't show up in a given web proxy filter that organizations put in place due to being encrypted via SSL. Users don't have a right to privacy AT WORK. Surfing porn at the office being the norm is next right?

  • Anonymous on

    This is going to be a security nightmare in the workplace for doing investigations into misconduct. I'm all for users having privacy at home don't get me wrong, but at work the option should be available to disable this for employees so they can't enable it; I know the sneakier ones will find a way around it, but why give them more ways to hide what they are doing? The search queries won't show up in a given web proxy filter that organizations put in place due to being encrypted via SSL. Users don't have a right to privacy AT WORK. Surfing porn at the office being the norm is next right?

  • Independant on

    Having our privacy protected? Are you insane?? The privacy violation is GOOGLE you fitzpa! "The privacy protectors at Google" is a staggeringly asinine statement! Google: The wonderful folks who spy on Chinese citizens for the communist Chinese government, many of whom are arrested and sent to prison or tortured and disappear... This is Google! Or how about this Google: That wonderful bastion of privacy protectors being sued by many socialist governments around the world for flagrantly violating individuals privacy "without reserve" except in these wonderful countries:  China, The United States of America under that champion of peoples rights Barrak Hussein O'Bama, and Britain. This is like getting shafted with a "High Security" shaft! Gees... This just keeps getting better! Don't unload your "Startpage" people! It's already an HTTPS connection but they also strip EVERYTHING about you and they DON'T spy on you... These "Nice guys" think we're stupid! Maybe they're just really gullible? And Firefox gets on board with this?

  • Anonymous on

    wow, talk about condescending.  i agree google doesnt care about privacy, because they are just like any corporate entity now that they are so big, and i refuse to use google. you clearly didn't understand that persons argument. you want privacy guaranteed? dont get online.

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