Frequently Asked Questions
- How does Googlesharing work?
- Why should I consider protecting my searches?
- When will Googlesharing be available for my browser?
- Where can I give feedback on Googlesharing?
- Why not use Anonymizer or any other anonymizing proxy service?
- Aren't one-hop proxies insecure?
- Why don't you proxy things like GMail or Google Checkout?
- So I can't use GMail or Google Checkout when I have Googlesharing enabled?
- Why doesn't Googlesharing proxy traffic for localized domains such as google.fr?
- What other services don't you proxy?
- What do you log? What information do you collect from me?
- Doesn't this mean that you could monitor my searches, though?
- How do I contact you?
How does Googlesharing work?
Googlesharing is based upon the open source "GoogleSharing" project.It uses a custom proxy server and a browser add-on that hides your location and protects your identity. The proxy works by generating a pool of "identities," each of which contains a cookie issued by Google. The browser add-on watches for requests to Google and transparently redirects them to the proxy.
There your request is stripped of all identifying information and replaced with the information from one of the other "identities." The result? You can transparently search Google's services, including images, maps, products, news, and its search engine, without Google being able to track you. Only your Google traffic is redirected, and your other browsing is not affected.
Why should I consider protecting my searches?
If you're like most internet users, Google knows more about you than you might be comfortable with. Every time you search, and follow a search result:
- Google records what you searched for
- Google sends the search term to the site you visit
- Google builds a profile of you (whether you are signed in or not)
- Google sends identifying information about you to the site you visit
- Google learns your location and records every place you are directed to
When will Googlesharing be available for my browser?
Our engineers are hard at work. Check back soon!
Where can I give feedback on Googlesharing?
Please send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why not use Anonymizer or any other anonymizing proxy service?
General purpose anonymizing proxies are designed for something else.
- Most will mask your IP address, but not the identifying information in your HTTP headers. Google will still know who you are based on your Cookies, User Agent, etc...
- If the proxy does attempt to anonymize HTTP headers, they will do it by completely stripping cookies from your request. Google does not like this, and will tag you as a SPAM bot (how convient for them to do), which will force you to type in a CAPTCHA every time you issue a Google search, and will prevent you from issuing Maps requests at all.
- These types of proxies can be slow. It's not necessary to proxy all of your internet traffic if you're just trying to protect yourself from Google. Since Googlesharing only proxies Google traffic, our bandwidth needs are much lower and thus our performance is much greater.
Aren't one-hop proxies insecure? Shouldn't I use Tor?
It depends on what you're trying to achieve. Googlesharing is not designed as a system for provably strong anonymity in the face of an adversary that is simultaneously monitoring all communication across the internet. Googlesharing is designed to provide a level of anonymity that prevents Google from building a profile on your day-to-day activity.
If you need directions to your Top-Secret rendevouz point, and it's critical for you to prevent intelligence agencies from later determining who requested those directions, use Tor. But Tor is so slow as to be unusable for proxying every single one of your day-to-day non-critical requests, and that's where Googlesharing comes in.
Why don't you proxy things like GMail or Google Checkout?
There is no way to anonymize these services, and it requires cookies that are pegged to your browser. If you log into your GMail account, it is obviously you. Naturally, we recommend switching to something other than GMail or Checkout, but if you must use things like GMail or Google Checkout, it should work seamlessly for you with Googlesharing enabled — that traffic just won't go through Googlesharing.
So I can't use GMail or Google Checkout when I have Googlesharing enabled?
You can use them, the traffic just won't be transmitted through the Googlesharing proxy, and thus will not be anonymized.
Why doesn't Googlesharing proxy traffic for localized domains like google.fr?
The hardest thing about running a service like Googlesharing is avoiding Google's abuse heuristics.
Google doesn't work well through things like Tor because when you start stripping cookies and HTTP
headers from your requests, Google tags your client as a spam bot and starts requiring you to enter
CAPTCHAs. Googlesharing thrives by being indistinguishable from a large corporate NAT, but if
a bunch of clients behind a US IP address all started making requests for localized Google pages
throughout the world, that would look strange.
The good news is that when you're using Googlesharing and type google.com, you shouldn't be automatically directed to google.xx
What other services don't you proxy?
By default, the Googlesharing plugin will proxy traffic for all Google services that don't require you to be logged in. It does not proxy Chat, GMail, Checkout, Sites, Docs, Photos, Calendar, Reader, or Health. Again, you can continue to use these services with Googlesharing enabled if you must — that traffic will just go directly to Google instead of passing through Googlesharing.
What do you log? What information do you collect from me?
Doesn't this mean that you could monitor my searches, though?
With the release of Googlesharing 0.20, even the Googlesharing proxy is not capable of monitoring your search queries. The addon pre-fetches the identity information from the Googlesharing proxy, uses that to construct an anonymized request, and then routes an encrypted connection to Google through the Googlesharing proxy. So while the traffic is routed through Googlesharing, it is encrypted to Google and thus not visible to the Googlesharing proxy.
The result is that Google knows what is being searched for, but doesn't know who issued the request. The Googlesharing proxy can tell where requests are coming from, but can't tell anything about the content of the request. The only thing you have to trust is that the operator of the Googlesharing proxy is not actively colluding with Google in order to determine the identities of Googlesharing users.
If you're still worried, remember that the Googlesharing addon and proxy code is publicly available. So it's possible for you to run a Googlesharing proxy yourself, or to find someone who you do trust.