An update on encrypted web search in schools

Monday, June 14, 2010 at 8:59 AM
Update, June 25, 2010: Less than two weeks ago, we announced here that we would be moving our encrypted search service to a new hostname in order to better serve our school partners and their users. Today, we moved encrypted search from https://www.google.com to https://encrypted.google.com. The site functions in the same way. However, if school network administrators decide to block encrypted searches on https://encrypted.google.com, the blocking will no longer affect Google authenticated services like Google Apps for Education.

We are continuing to explore longer-term options such that we could return encrypted search to https://www.google.com without introducing issues with school content filters.

We recently launched a beta version of encrypted (SSL) search at https://www.google.com to prevent people from intercepting our users' search terms and results. However, because encrypted search creates an obscured channel between a user's computer and Google, users who go to https://www.google.com can bypass some schools' content filters. This can make it hard for schools to stop students from accessing adult content.

One option is for schools to use our SafeSearch lock feature, which is designed to help keep adult content out of our search results. But given how many computers some institutions have this is proving impractical in many cases. So to prevent students from bypassing their filters, some schools are blocking encrypted search. However, a side effect of this action is that it also blocks other services hosted at Google's secure URL, including Google Apps for Education, and many of our other services which require authentication to keep information safe.

We're working hard to address this issue as quickly as possible and in a few weeks we will move encrypted search to a new hostname – so schools can limit access to SSL search without disrupting other Google services, like Google Apps for Education. Longer term, we are exploring other options like moving authentication to its own hostname so that we can return encrypted search to https://www.google.com.

Safety and security matter to Google, and we are committed to working with our partners in education so that we help keep students safe and secure on the Internet.

Posted by Dave Girouard, President, Google Enterprise