sundaridevi - 2:17 pm on Jul 20, 2012 (gmt 0)
There is no reason for G NOT to pass on referers. G knows what they are; the target site needs to know what they are; and still the original request is encrypted to protect it against intercession. In any case, if a Gov asks G to provide search data for someone, what do you think G will do? I doubt they will refuse as that will get the Gov ticked off with them, which right now they do not want.
IanCP - it's your security.
Google doesn't have to pass referrers because as far as search is purely concerned it is a product to help an end user find a solution, it is not a product to help webmasters do market research. It would only take a couple of hours for me to charge 50% more to customers who search for "widgets at highest quality" when I know that I am already the high cost provider.
I believe Google is doing this to differentiate their search as providing a high level of privacy. Most of their other products are consistent with this philosophy. Traditionally, market research is a paid commodity, and maybe that is yet another possible reason for the change, but I doubt google would offer to sell us this info.
Re: Governments. If the Gov is China and the court order has no legal basis under international law, we know what G will do - Punt. That means they don't play ball. We also know what Yahoo did - rollover. Historical actions are important. Each of these companies fared differently in the resulting backlash. G got the assistance of the NSA. Is such help free? Maybe in some possible universe. Shortly after, every few weeks we are encouraged to give a cell phone number to help boost gmail "security". Then when the court order comes from the USA, not only can the Gov read emails, they can monitor phone conversations ( but apparently not on Americans - which fact should affect some people here ).
@IanCP: I once had a conversation with a German lawyer who was going on and on about the privacy violations implicit in full body scans. So finally I said, 'what can they do with that'. He paused, became very intense and said, "Next time we have a fascist government you will see what they can do with that!"