inbound - 11:56 am on Oct 20, 2011 (gmt 0)
I can see the reasons behind not sending referral data that includes the query; there are many places in between Google and the intended website that could harvest that data.
I'm throwing down a challenge to Google. As I would assume that Google are OK for the visited site to have access to the query string (but not those inbetween) I suggest this (and I know that people might not like WMT, but if Google send you traffic you might have to do this to "play ball"):
Implement a system which uses encryption of the query string, with site owners given access to the decryption key (through WMT) that could be used with code available from Google - this key could also be shared with analytics programs to decode the querystring.
This means only Google and the target site can read the querystring, so features on sites that rely on the query being there will be still work (with some updates to the code).
If Google think that giving the querystring to the target website is a problem then I would have to disagree with them entirely - they have the ability to add (if it's not already there) a line or two to their T&C's to allow them to do this without fear of privacy authorities. Passing the querystring is helpful for the consumer in many cases.
Will Google do this?