Bug#587801: URL bar entries should not be revealed to google by default

Mike Hommey mh at glandium.org
Fri Jul 2 06:14:32 UTC 2010

On Thu, Jul 01, 2010 at 06:56:31PM +0100, Ian Jackson wrote:
> Package: iceweasel
> Version: 3.0.6-3
> I'm using a pretty much vanilla Debian lenny iceweasel.  After
> prompting by someone, I typed
>    feeble bloop
> into the URL bar and hit return.
> Firefox sent my putative URL to Google, which did a search.  I got a
> Google search page.  This is a privacy violation.
> In the default configuration, information should not be sent to places
> which the user does not expect.  If the user is typing into the URL
> bar, that does not mean to turn it into a Google search just because
> the user made a mistake.
> It would be fine for this feature to be optional.  I'm complaining
> about the default.

I really don't know what to think about that issue. I'd tend to agree
with you, except that considering most graphical browsers do the same[1],
I'd expect users to be aware of that feature by now. A lot of users may
even expect that feature to be available by default.

1. As far as I tested, epiphany and chromium both do. IIRC, MSIE also
does something similar. OTOH, Safari apparently doesn't. Note that
chromium goes further and gets suggestions for what has been typed in
the url bar, similarly to what iceweasel does in the search box on the
top right. This means your problem is worse in chromium, which "leaks"
the data even before you hit return.

Just a thought: iceweasel could use the scrollable list of locations you
get when what you type matches something you have in your history or
bookmarks to make the user more aware of what is going to happen. For an
example of how it could look like, try to type "feeble bloop" again in
the url bar after you've done so once.

FWIW, a way to remove this behaviour now in iceweasel is to edit the
keyword.URL preference:



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