rlange - 6:56 pm on Oct 19, 2011 (gmt 0) [edited by: rlange at 7:05 pm (utc) on Oct 19, 2011]
I don't see a problem in this as Google has long made it clear that users come first for them and not the webmasters.Why should they give out this data for free and let the webmasters game them?
It also helps them keep away this data from their bitter rivals Microsoft as googlers weren't happy at what they were doing. "We track data on all websites and how dare you track data on our property through users of your browser?"
Let's not go cartwheeling off into corporate conspiracy land here, folks...
Keep in mind that, once rolled out, this will only affect organic traffic from those searchers who are logged in. Yes, even if it effects less than 10% of users, it's not necessarily non-trivial, but it's also not complete silence.
Google's turning off one of ten lights in your room. Enough, maybe, to be noticeable, but not enough to throw you into complete darkness.
Don't get carried away.
They deliberately strip the search term in the referrer. The referrer still includes google, the cd param value (serp position), the url param value etc. Only the q param value is stripped (e.g. "&q=&").
The Referer header is set by the browser, not the referring page, so I'm curious as to how they're accomplishing this...
Edit: Heh! Answered below as I was updating this post with the question.
[edited by: rlange at 7:05 pm (utc) on Oct 19, 2011]