avoiding accidental google

Even though I set my default search engine to anything but google (usually ixquick, but sometimes its sister engine at startpage) I have occasionally been caught out by firefox’s helpful attempts to intervene if I mistakenly enter a search option in the URL navigation field (or just hit return too early). Firefox’s default action in such cases is to direct a search to google. This is not helpful to someone who actively wishes to avoid that.

The way to prevent this is to edit the firefox configuration thus:

– go to “about:config” in the navigation bar
– now search for the string “keword.url”
– right click on the returned option and select “modify”
– now enter “https://ixquick.com/do/search/?q=” and accept.

Now all mistakes will be sent to ixquick as searches and not to google.

Permanent link to this article: https://baldric.net/2012/07/31/avoiding-accidental-google/


Skip to comment form

    • Peter on 2012/08/01 at 10:39 am

    I have to do that for Safari as well now Apple has “helpfully” replaced the separate URL and search entry fields with one universal one. As if it is so hard to choose one or the other..


    I must say it is becoming VERY irritating to have to dig through all the options to make sure your data isn’t given away somewhere, but Apple defaults at least most of the time to safe. The dictation feature, for instance, will not go live before warning you that (a) it will ship what it records to the US for translation (questionable purpose, if Dragon Dictate can do it on the machine, why not Apple) and (b) it will ship ALL YOUR CONTACTS as well (which should have been optional to start with). So it warns you rather extensively.

    What it omits to tell you is that the consequence of using dictation and voice control is the same as using Siri on an iPhone: leaving perfect biometrics (voiceprint) with an untrusted 3rd party in a nation where law enforcement is known for getting a tad creative with access requests. Hmm, maybe not then. Call me paranoid – I merely see it as overcompensating for the relentless quest for user data.

    Oh, and on that topic – have a read what the Irish Data Protection people got up to. It doesn’t look good for your privacy, does it? What the Irish don’t seem to realise is that they were already sitting on top of a political powderkeg – and that SMS may very well have lit the fuse – I am betting this is going to the EU Data Protection people now.

    It’s not on that Farcebook can get massive tax benefits in Ireland without meeting basic legal obligations…

    (/tangent) :)

    • Mick on 2012/08/01 at 3:15 pm


    Not being an apple fan, I hadn’t realised that using Siri had that kind of impact. Strikes me as one more reason /not/ to use apple products. Oh, and that anti-facebook reference is interesting (if a little over-enthusiastic in places).


    • Peter on 2012/08/02 at 12:05 am

    Well, there is actually a LOT of data tapping going on in the mobile world. Very few people realise it that software like Viber and WhatsApp are always routing communication via US companies, as is iMessage on the Apple platform (now on both iPhone and on OSX). It is trivial to tap that data in the US, and Viber is one of the few companies that honestly admits that they do not even encrypt communications.

    It has neatly solved the problem for the US to perform mass intercept on SMS – normal SMS traffic stays “in country”, so to tap it required collaboration of local telcos. The software as above routes all that traffic conveniently across US based servers so tapping it doesn’t even need a warrant under certain conditions (such as whispering the magic word “terrorist”).

    Also, every time you ping GPS coordinates to Google it is likely it passes on the SSIDs of any WiFi network you’re near as well – Google made that very clear as an argument why they no longer needed “accidental” Streetview WiFi sniffing – I find it amusing that people equate “open” with “safer” when the manufacturer is actually in the business of data gathering. Apple sells hardware, and has of yet not really exploited the data it has from users. Money also talks in security – find what makes the company money, and you find where they are likely to take shortcuts or even simply ignore any inconvenient laws.

    At which point I have returned to Facebook in Ireland :). On the latter, it is amateurish because they are students, and thus don’t quite yet know how the world works. On the other hand, it is exactly *because* they are students that this can turn into a disaster for the Irish Office of the Data Protection Commissioner. The ODPC have forgotten that students can focus 100% of their energies on this (it’s holiday), and facts and logic are firmly on their side.

    In my opinion, the ODPC is only one mistake away from this going viral, and I think that one mistake has already been made..

    • Makito89Yt70 on 2012/09/20 at 9:50 pm

    Very, very nice page! :)

Comments have been disabled.