Impact of Google’s Web Accelerator

Google recently released a Web Accelerator.

GWA works to speed up the surfing process for all web sites NOT only Google by a combination of:

+ Prefetching material
In part, determined by an algorithm developed at Google that looks at
mouse movements and aggregate traffic to sites to try to determine what to prefetch
+ Caching of pages on Google’s own servers
They will also try to determine how frequently material is updated and continuously have the latest copy available on their servers. Mayer said that GWA and Google’s new search history product are completely independent of one another.
+ Parallel downloading
Download multiple parts of the page (images for example) at the same
+ Differential fetching
Instead of downloading the entire page, GWA will try send only what
might have changed on the page
+ Compression
Mayer added however that GWA tries not to change the quality of images and other material.

(via Search Engine Watch)

The issue:

Since all browsing occurs through Google’s cache, your browsing behavior and activity is being tracked by Google. We’ll have to wait and see what Google does with this information though. Google is massing huge amounts of user data with their applications (email, mapping, browsing, advertising, search).

From their privacy page:

Google does not require any personal information when you download Google Web Accelerator, although we do collect standard information about your computer, such as the type of browser you use, etc.

What do you think Google considers “standard information”, more importantly what do you think “etc” covers?

* Google will receive your requests for unencrypted pages (those with “HTTP:”, not “HTTPS:”, at the beginning of the URL), along with information such as the date and time of the request, your IP address, and computer and connection information
* If you enter personally identifiable information (such as an email address) onto a form on an unencrypted web page, some sites may send this information through Google. Whenever your computer sends cookies with browsing or prefetching page requests for unencrypted sites, we temporarily cache these cookies in order to improve performance
* In order to speed up the display of pages generally, Google Web Accelerator may store copies of web pages, including prefetched pages that you did not visit, in the Google Web Accelerator cache on your machine. This is separate from your browser’s cache, which only identifies pages that you actually visited. You can empty your Google Web Accelerator cache at any time by following these instructions.

Update: Nick over at Threadwatch has a great summary of the Google backlash. Fantomaster offers his personal take and a list of quotes from other places.